Drever, McCusker, Woomble: Before the Ruin

  • Label: Navigator
  • Format: album
Rating: 5.0 out of 10

Well, being as I've repeatedly claimed that this is primarily a music blog I'd better talk about some music...

Choosing what record to post about first was a tough decision (should it be something I think's awesome? or terrible?) and I've finally decided to just write a post about the last CD I bought; Before the Ruin by Kris Drever, John McCusker and Roddy Woomble. Those astute music fans amongst you will probably recognize those names, and this certainly appears to be a folk-super-group.

Woomble's probably the most famous of the group, thanks to the success of his (now seemingly defunct) band Idlewild. I've always been a closet fan of theirs - Roddy's got a great, distinctive voice, but the ham-fisted electric guitar displayed on Warnings/Promises put me right off.

McCusker's played with pretty much any slightly-folky act you can think of, but it probably most renowned for his involvement (musically and otherwise *cough*cough*...) with the occasionally excellent Kate Rusby.

I've not heard of Kris Drever before, but a quick Wikipedia search reveals him to be yet another stalwart of the Northen-England/Scottish folk scene. There are also far too many cameos on this record to mention in full here, but expect to hear drums a la Radiohead's Philip Selway and vocals a la Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake, to name but a few of the guest appearances...

The album itself is actually pretty good – as you'd expect from such a pedigree – but fails to set the world alight with it's amazingness. The first two tracks particularly stand out, but the momentum slips as the record progresses.

Drever's aged-fisherman style vocal delivery works nicely when layered under the dulcet tones of Woomble, but sounds somewhat contrived and folksy when he takes a turn at lead vocals. His guitaring, on the other hand, is exceptional; competent without being flash, stylistically relevant without being twee. But then again that could be McCusker I'm hearing, as he does step in occasionally on Tenor guitar, but mostly struts his stuff on the fiddle; at times lifting the songs above the morass of singer-songwriter drivel that seems so popular of late, but at others sending the record spiraling toward Radio 2 folk hell... eugh.

In short, Before the Ruin is a fine example of some exceptional musicians doing what they do best, but it does lack the substance and originality that would've made it more than the sum of it's parts.

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