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Rusty ShackleRusty Shackle
Album: Dusk
Label: Get Folked
Tracks: 13

With fiddle, banjo and trumpet among their musical arsenal, the folk-rock sextet from Caldicot, Monmouthsire, have already released two albums since coming together in 2010 and are looking to take things to the next level with this, their third and most sonically edgy offering. They cite Seth Lakeman among the influences, something fairly evident from the urgent, drums pounding opening cut, 'When The Morning Comes', with singer Liam Collins in full blooded mode as Scott McKeon's fiddle scrapes around him. That raw edge continues on 'Heart of the Storm' with its stabbing march rhythm and distorted vocal passages, indeed here they sound far closer to rock than folk, at times suggesting something in common with the later, less barricade storming work of fellow Welsh outfit The Alarm. Like them they also have a feel for big crowd singalongs, as deftly captured in the handclaps, banjo and stomp of 'Stop On The Line' with its anthemic chorus.

They vary the musical palette over the album's 13 tracks, turning to quieter, more reflective moods with the simple acoustic Lonely Lighthouse Life, a fingerpicked 'You Are My Lantern' and the moodily atmospheric 'Stolen Letters', while 'Don't Look Back, Don't Look Down' adopts a tumbling jig approach reminiscent of The Proclaimers, 'Lion In Winter' is a poppy strummer in the manner of Noah and the Whale with a dash of calypso. Elsewhere, 'Down To The Valley' takes a swing at Celtic blues with a chain gang chorus chant, 'Lucinda Returned' touches on prog folk in a way that suggests they might have heard the odd Robert Plant album and closing track 'Ellidaey Island' starts out as a cabaret piano number before shading into a swaying waltz shanty before climbing aboard a lurching carnival roundabout, whistling away to the fade. It's a track that wouldn't feel out of place on a Stackridge album.

I particularly want to mention 'Moving On', a jangling, jittery and cascading tune that further picks up tempo as the drums, fiddle and trumpet kick in, written and primarily sung by Remy Beasley in memory of her mother that buzzes with celebration rather than grief and proves something of a sneaky highlight as its gets under the skin like an itch. I've been playing this considerably since it arrived, lodging a place in my albums of the month pile. Give them a listen, I reckon they'll clap you in irons too.

Mike Davies