‘The Wheel Of The Year’ by Garry and Rose Blakeley. Review by Andy Gunton - Pierless Music and Hastings Rock.
‘The Wheel of the Year’ is the new album from legendary folk fiddler Garry Blakeley and his wife Rose. The theme of the album is of a journey through the year and the seasons, incorporating old traditions and festivals along the way.
The album features 14 tracks, very nearly one for every month and includes 11 originals, with the music being written by Garry and the lyrics by Rose.
‘Sons of the Soil (The Ploughboy’s Song)’ kicks the album (and the year) off in fine style, complete with a guest appearance from former Fairport Convention drummer Dave Mattacks on drums and bodhran.
Apart from this guest, nearly all of the instruments on the album are played by either Garry, or his son Edd. They are both very accomplished multi-instrumentalists. ‘Wheel of the Year’ was recorded in Garry and Edd’s home studios, engineered by Garry and produced, mixed and then mastered by Edd.
To complete the family connection the artwork was done by Rose Blakeley, making it a real family affair.
The remaining 13 tracks vary from toe tappers right through to ballads, with many stops in between. There is something here for everyone who likes their Folk music, including the rockiest version of a Christmas carol that you are ever likely to hear.
One of my own personal favourites is the version of ‘The Last Post’, combined with ‘Battle of the Somme’, which I suspect was originally written with bagpipes in mind. Not that you’d really know that by listening to this interpretation.
The final track, ‘The Cold Farewell/The Night Sky/The Frosty Morning’ is a great example of the varied styles and tempos present on ‘The Wheel of the Year’. It’s a perfect way to complete the album and indeed the year.
A couple of the tracks have appeared in different versions on previous albums. ‘The Summer Polkas’ featured on a recent album by Garry and Rose called ‘The Ceremony of May’.
In fact ‘The Wheel of the Year’ compliments that past album very well and Hastings residents may well spot a few local references in the lyrics here, some of which verge on poetry.
‘The Wheel of the Year’ is an ambitious project, but it has been carried off very well. I’ve no doubt that many of these themes and topics have been covered and recorded by various Folk musicians over the years? I know that I’ve heard a few of them myself. In my humble opinion though, these interpretations are surely up there with the best of them.