The Albion Band

The Vice of the People

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During its long, convoluted history, the Albion Band has gone by various names and moved from folk-rock to pure acoustic folk and back again. Founder Ashley Hutchings was the only core member, and his vision of folk-rock that leaned more to the folk side of the equation has always guided the band's repertoire. Hutchings turned the band over to his son, guitarist, and singer Blair Dunlop, in 2011, and Blair put together another incarnation of the group featuring another gang of young A-list folkies including two great songwriters -- singer, fiddler, and mandolin player Katriona Gilmore and guitarist, singer, cittern, and concertina player Gavin Davenport. Gilmore contributes "Coalville," the wrenching story of a young girl in a coal town dreaming of a better life in the city that she fears she may never be able to realize. Davenport contributes "Thieves Song," a protest song with a martial beat that contrasts the lives of poor thieves and the rich thieves they envy, and "How Many Miles to Babylon?," a despondent waltz that talks of a wife and child waiting in vain for their husband/father to return home from an unnamed war. Gilmore sings the song with an aching, hopeless passion. The group continues the Albion tradition of sprightly folk dance tunes with "The 2 x 2 Set," featuring Gilmore's lively fiddling and Tom Wright's asymmetrical rhythms, and the stately "The Skirmish Set," led by Davenport's concertina until the band comes in to support more lively fiddling by Gilmore. Also included are several covers, including "Faces," a Nik Kershaw protest song that sounds like it could be a century-old lament against the insanity of war, and Richard Thompson's "Roll Over Vaughan Williams," a snarky track from his first solo album that's given an anthemic reading with Gilmore's fiddle soaring over a grinding rhythm track.