Galley Beggar: Silence And Tears

British sextet serve up folk rock the old-fashioned way.

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The days of the late 60s/early 70s were something of a golden age for traditional English folk rock, with Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span and Pentangle producing a string of classic albums.

In recent years, however, it’s been an area which has lain relatively fallow, at least until the entrance of Kent/London-based sextet Galley Beggar. Though they are a full band, with electric instrumentation and drums, much of their superb third album is acoustic, and enjoyable in all cases. The real peaks, however, come when the band turn the amps up and rock out, with the standout piece, the nine-minute epic Pay My Body Home, coming across like a lost Liege & Lief track, with stunning guitar work reminiscent of Richard Thompson. It’s stirring stuff, and in vocalist Maria O’Donnell the band have unearthed a real gem. While perhaps not possessed of quite the purity of Sandy Denny or Maddy Prior, she can however lay claim to be more powerful than the former, and less mannered than the latter. A chip off the old Pentangle, certainly – but if Galley Beggar continue in this vein they can be the true folk rock standard bearers for the new millennium. Highly recommended.