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The Changing Room The Changing Room
Album: Picking Up The Pieces
Label: TCR Music
Tracks: 11

Sam Kelly and Tanya Brittain's project - alongside many others - has picked up not just the pieces but some significant momentum since their debut release 'Behind The Lace'. Adding momentum not only to their own cause but count them as another band who are establishing the South West as a hotbed of strong folk tradition.

The Kelly/Brittain combo provides the bulk of the songwriting and the core of the band with its evolving line up; no strangers to working up songs and tunes beyond their core though, the musicians include Evan Carson and John McCusker on percussion and fiddle respectively throughout the album and songwriting guest slots from Boo Hewerdine and Geoff Lakeman, the latter suddenly enjoying something of an Indian Summer and striking forth for the Lakeman dynasty. Oh and Belinda O'Hooley accompanying Sam on 'We Will Remember Them'; a song which also appears on their excellent 'Names On A Wall' EP which follows up the story of the Lost Gardens of Heligan….but that's another story.

Aside from Geoof's own 'Tie 'Em Up', a thinly veiled political/social commentary, 'The Grayhound' has a strong Lakeman feel with strident fiddle and banjo as the album slowly emerges as a journey through the characters and distinctive sights and sounds of the region. Merchants, smugglers, luggers and travelling sit alongside the trials and tribulations of the daily grind and fight to survive.

Singing in their native Cornish language on 'Gwrello Glaw' and 'Delyow Sevi' - not something you hear every day - but a nod to the folk arts traditions and a chance to raise the awareness of the Cornish culture. There's also an admittedly strong link with the local industries of fishing and mining, yet lyrically the album also explores the issues of what happens when the industries fade and people are left to, as the album title states, pick up the pieces. A blast of humour too and singalongability with 'It's All Downhill From Here' - namechecking a shedload of locales and the railroad which provided the link between many of the South West industries. The railroad equivalent of a sea shanty.

As you'd expect, a classily composed and played set of songs and with Kelly and Brittain at the helm, The Changing Room's course seems all set for spreading the Cornish word.

Mike Ainscoe