The Mather Robinson BandThe Mather Robinson Band
Album: A Carousel for Fools
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 13

The roots of the Mather Robinson Band stretch back a long way. Dave Mather and Pete Robinson grew up together in and around Salford in the nineteen sixties and have, in various bands and as solo artists, been writing and performing music ever since.

In the guise of the Mather Robinson Band, and joined by Anthony Quinn and Chris Mather, A Carousel for Fools is their second album together. The album has a broadly traditional sound but includes some very contemporary songs covering subjects such as changes in the benefit system and the attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris.

The CD starts off with fairly traditional subject matter for any folk album; drinking! The track is called 'Sibelius' and celebrates the fact that the hard-drinking composer was so admired by his countrymen that he was specifically excluded from the sweeping Finnish alcohol laws. It's a rousing, bang-your-tankard-on-the-tavern-table song that you could happily sing at the end of a raucous evening - if only you could remember the words!

Contrasting with the high spirits of 'Sibelius', 'Men of Constant Sorrow' takes a bleak look at the impact of changes made by politicians, often for a vote-catching soundbite, on those hanging on at the margins of society. In interesting tune that never does quite does what you expect it to but carries a message of bitterness and despair.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this album is the mixture of clearly contemporary songs, songs written by the band that sound as though they were written at least 100 years ago and the occasional folk classic.

So the modern classic 'Wild Mountain Thyme' is followed by 'In the Name of the Father'; a song about the atrocities being committed in the name of religion across the globe. The songs are written with clarity and intelligence and performed with restraint, integrity and, above all, great musicianship.

Many of the songs deal with current social issues and, as such, are in the best folk music tradition. they also manage to pay their respects to several hundred years of musical heritage whilst at the same time giving the individual band members space enough to express themselves. The Mather Robinson Band achieve this difficult balancing act with apparent grace and ease.

This is a particularly well rounded album with something for everyone. I've very much enjoyed 'A Carousel for Fools' and think you will too.

Tim Goodwin

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