Conflict Tourism is the fourth album from Katriona Gilmore (fiddle) and Jamie Roberts (guitar). My love of traditional music was instilled at an early age and I’ve listened to folk musicians go from four men in pullovers singing ‘Wild Rover’ to some of the most talented vocalists and instrumentalists on the planet. Gilmore and Roberts are in the latter camp.
The tracks on Conflict Tourism vary from the grinding factory thump of ‘Cecilia’ to the ancient English soundscape of ‘Jack O Lantern’, the hauntingly beautiful ‘Peter Pan’ and humorous ‘Ghost of A Ring’. The songs all feature a common theme; conflict in its many guises and universality.
Seth Lakeman’s influence is apparent in the thoughtfulness of the lyrics and the construction of the songs, this is a wonderfully crafted album, the themes may be eternal but the message is right up to date, documenting the problems of everyday life and love. Songs that sound as if they come from an antiquarians songbook have wonderfully incongruous modern metaphors and idioms plugged into them and they work beautifully because folk is folk is Folk.
The duo take turns at singing lead and their violin, mandolin and guitar are given added thump when required by musicians Matt Downer (Jamie Smith’s Mabon), Phil Henry (Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin) and James Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt). Producer Mark Tucker has brought his breadth of experience to the album keeping the arrangements uncluttered when required but revelling in the full band sound to add emphasis and heft to the jauntier tunes.
Fusion of one sort or another is often mentioned in references to the pair but what I hear is talented story tellers using whatever genre is relevant to tell the tale well. When all is said and done this is English Folk music at its vibrant best. Conflict Tourism is exquisitely small and beautiful and brash and proud but always honest.
I was expecting a great deal and they have delivered in bucket loads