Review by Colin Hynson
Sisters & Brothers is the fifth album from this guitar and mandolin duo - with occasional guest musicians. They have established a strong reputation within traditional music circles for their interpretations of both British folk songs but also from the French and Spanish–speaking world.
The first piece of music on this album is the title track. It follows the tradition of British folk songs highlighting the exploitation of workers whether in the field or in the factory. The song acknowledges a globalised economic system in which the exploitation sung about in the past has now been exported to the developing world. ‘Sisters and Brothers’ remembers the over 1000 workers who died in Bangladesh in 2013 when the garment factory they were working in collapsed.
‘The Sirens Call’ is another self–penned piece. This time dealing with the issue of addiction. Many folk and rock/pop artists have covered drug and alcohol addiction. In the former there are songs by Spirit of the West and the Levellers. For the latter there’s Ed Sheeran, Any Whitehouse and Nine Inch Nails amongst many others. This is the first time that I’ve heard a heartfelt song about a man’s gambling addiction and the support gets from his wife.
For track number three we are in the familiar territory of a soldier returning home and unsure how his sweetheart will greet him. It’s a translation of a Québécois song performed by an electrofolk band called Mélisande. So a traditional song made electronic and then translated and turned back into an acoustic piece. It’s worth listening to and, on top of that, it meant that I’d discovered an electrofolk band I’d never heard of.
We stay with a French theme with medley made up of a Breton folk tune to which has been added a self–penned Bourrée (a kind of French dance music) and an arrangement of a Galician Muiñeira (a kind of Spanish dance music that has a faster tempo than a Bourrée).
Up North of the border for with a beautiful arrangement of an old Scottish song ‘Times Wears’ Awa’’. It tells of an old man looking back wistfully but with no regret on his youthful years. It’s also recently been covered by Jean Leslie and Siobhan Miller.