Tom KitchingTom Kitching
Album: Interloper
Label: Fellside
Tracks: 10

I first became aware of Tom Kitching as part of a duo with Gren Bartley, I was impressed. Pilgrims' Way followed which I also enjoyed so when the opportunity came up to review his new solo project then I was happy to oblige.

Using his own words he describes the new album as "An outward facing, forward looking English Music album. Shaped by an increasing and hugely varied raft of influences English music is evolving faster than ever. What are the new English tunes? What influences them? How do they fit in to the continuum of English music?"

All of a sudden I feel inadequate to the task. To the questions being asked? But that's ok, let's see what we get shall we.

Starting with the musicians, the melting pot of what is English is expanded, it's swelled with Norways's Marit Fålt on Swedish Mandocello, with Scotland's Freya Rae on flute and clarinet whilst being firmly rooted in England with Lancashire's Jim Molyneux on drums and percussion. The question of influences and instrumentation though becomes considerably larger.

As to the music, the interplay of instruments is top notch, Kitching's fiddle matches perfectly the mood of each piece and Rae's flute is often at the centre. Occasionally we hear the cello of Lisa Wacthorn, the melodeon of Andy Cutting and Jon Loomes adds the hurdy gurdy.

We have tunes from Play ford's "The English Dancing Master" dating from the 1650's sitting next to contemporary material. We go even further back with the medieval "La Rotta" coupled with "Occidentals" a Kitching original. We have slow jigs, we have Morris tunes, we have hornpipes including a lovely pair written by Tim Elvin. We have a mazurka written by Andrew Swain for his partner called surprisingly enough the "Gail Bladder Mazurka", you rather hope she took it as a compliment. She should though it's a wonderful if dark rendition.

The last track is "Sue and Adi's Fast Dance" written by fiddler Sean Heeley, it's a delightful Eastern European influenced tune which is played with abandon.

What does all this mean? Can we draw any conclusions?

Having listened to "Interloper" now for two weeks I can't find any answers other than it's been a thoroughly enjoyable quest to consider. To embrace if you like.

Perhaps that is the key. Perhaps we should all embrace "Interlopers".

Ian Cripps