Fairport Convention - Festival Bell

Soundly ringing out

Festival Bell

With a four year
gap since their
last studio
album, Fairport
have clearly
taken their time
with this new offering, bouncing
back with a body of work that
oozes class in every department.
Most immediately noticeable is
the thoughtful production, binding
the 14 tracks into a cohesive
whole and offering a depth that
allows a clear place for every
vocal and instrumental nuance.

Within this, the material mixes
group originals with four songs
from outside, including two fine
works from Ralph McTell and a
gentle remake of Sandy Denny’s
Rising For The Moon. Chris
Leslie’s Darkside Wood is a tragic
love story, while his Mercy Bay
joins the canon of Fairport’s
history songs. Three instrumentals
offer variety, with Ric Saunders’
two-part Danny Jack piece
contrasting with Dave Pegg’s bass
romp on Albert & Ted, while Peggy
takes lead vocal on the lovely
Celtic Moon song.

As befits the back story of the
Cropredy church bells, the closing
title track is a celebratory work
which binds together that
particular Oxfordshire village and
its annual festival visitors. For a
group well into their fifth decade,
Festival Bell is a work of maturity
and depth, yet delivered with a
lightness of touch that will delight
fans old and new.

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

Matty Grooves | MGCD 050

Reviewed by Kingsley Abbott
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