Album: Heroes Villians Lovers
Label: Hang
Tracks: 9

Tyburn describe themselves as "a unique band based in Sheffield", who play "Rock - with a Folk Edge". That (less often encountered) emphasis may be attributed to the musical experiences, predilections and background of two of the band in particular; keyboardist Craig Booker was a member of Celtic folk-rock outfit Rhiannon in the mid-to-late 1980s (who recorded for Fellside), while guitarist Mick Ball, after a spell as folk club organiser and performer, joined up with Craig in the duo Remix to play rocked-up trad and contemporary folk, the two then teaming up with Mike Gair to form Tyburn, shortly after which Mike G left and the founding duo's leaning towards original songwriting, combined with a distinct penchant for electricity, led to an expanded lineup with the addition of drummer Lord Rufus Of Rufford and a succession of bass players, to fulfil which latter role they recruited Phoebe Taylor-Thorpe in 2009; and that's the four-piece lineup responsible for this long-awaited studio recording. (Since which time, however, Lord Rufus has departed these shores with his day-job, so the recruiting process has begun again…)

And now, avid readers, you'll have learnt more about Craig (and Tyburn) through the interview feature in Stirrings 152, and will be even more eager to encounter and appraise the multifarious delights of the band's new CD. And I'm pleased to report it's a stonker. In the time-honoured tradition of rock-cum-folk-cum-all-points-in-between, it needs to be played loud for the desired impact. And impact it certainly makes, from the thunderous opening salvo of Over The Top. For Tyburn sure mean business, with a gloriously punchy (and suitably "manic") drum sound, striding leccy guitar and grinding, swirling keyboard, underpinned by a brilliantly solid pumping bass line. Go straight in to sample track seven, Someday, and its successor, the anthemic reminiscence Take Me Back, for arguably the most persuasive instances of the Tyburn sound at its rocky best. Incidentally, the first of these latter two titles also provides Phoebe with her only solo vocal passage on the CD (there should be more, for she's a strong and versatile singer!) - she also supplies some great, and intuitive, harmonies in support of Mick's excellent lead vocals.

The writing credits reveal Craig as author of six of the disc's nine tracks; of the rest, one's jointly penned with Mick and the remaining two are written by Mick alone. For good examples of the strength of the guys' songwriting, and especially to experience the much-vaunted folky slant to their material, sample Too Cool To Be Moonlight (the tale of the multi-faceted imaginary character Jimmy Crow), Never Again See The Sun (which concerns a preacher-turned-robber awaiting his fate by hanging) and Over The Top (which tellingly references imagery from the so-called Great War). Another highlight among the nine original songs is the band's affectionate nod to our esteemed prog heritage on the post-Gabriel-Genesis-influenced Theef, while Strawberries And Stormclouds brings Tyburn into the realms of social and political commentary. Away from the more rockist moments, the simple but effective mid-paced departing-soldier-romancer Indigo and the acoustic buskersome KFC Song provide some necessary contrast.

Finally, praise for the attractive and distinctive artwork and design (by Sylvia May), all elements of the package (including provision of full lyrics in the accompanying booklet) embracing and retaining those good old-fashioned values that ensure the resultant artefact will "hang around" permanently on your CD shelves.

Available for just £8 plus £1.50 P&P; contact until the band's new website is fully up and running.

David Kidman