Eve’s Bonie Squad
Grown Up Folk Songs From a Master-craftsman
Tim Dalling has been stalwart of the British Folk scene for many years; albeit as the ‘comedic turn’ in the Old Rope String Band and more latterly the New Rope String Band; but in recent years has been occasionally performing as a solo singer-songwriter.
None of which prepared me for this album.
The first song here stopped me right in my tracks. A Picture of You could easily be a Guy Clark or Tom Russell song; if they knew the references to Keegan and Osgood; which Tim compares his brother and himself to. A fabulous start.
Dalling’s well worn and slightly ragged voice is perfect for this set of songs and poems set to music, which, while Folk in origin don’t necessitate sticking a finger in your ear; and on Where I Want to Be; there’s even a slight Americana feel to the harmonies and subtle guitar playing in the background.
Dalling’s quintessential Scottishness is never far away from the way he interprets the poems Two Lighthouse’s (by poet Julia Darling) and the charming Shy Bairns (get nee broth); originally by the Jingling Geordie, Keith Armstrong. Both will bring these words to new audiences and go on to touch the hearts of people around the world, as they recognise the characters in their own circle of friends and families.
Accompanied throughout by Folk legends Ian Carr and Neil Harland; the trio gel like neeps and tatties on the First World War song They’ll Never Come Back; although sadly the sentiment is as relevant in 2016 as it was in 1916.
The title track, Eve’s Bonie Squad is simply wonderful as Tim appears to dig deeply into his family history and shares a glorious story about his ancestors and sets it to a beautiful tune, too.
Bravely, Tim even includes a short unaccompanied song; Indelible, Miraculous which has a heart-warming poetic feel to it; not unlike a Robert Burns poem translated into modern English.
It wouldn’t be the real Tim Dalling without a couple of songs that will make you smile; first we have the charming Scots-Mex Hey Burro, from the pen of Nigel Wild, which has all the hallmarks of a concert favourite; especially because of the salty language hidden in a couple of lines.
Then towards the end Enivrez-Vous (Get Drunk) is an ode the Auld Alliance between Scotland and France; sung in French with Tim giving it pelters on the accordion; he sounds like a cross between Edith Piaf and Dame Maggie Bell; and the song is an absolute joy.
Then; we have my favourite song on the album; and possibly my favourite song of the year so far. I’ve always been a sucker for coal-mining song, and for a variety of reasons I’ve become really Socialist in my beliefs over the last couple of years, so the touching and pin sharp Song of the Lower Classes (originally written in 1852 by Chartist Ernest Jones) ticks every box I have. Dalling’s pleading and mournful voice has a timeless quality to it; just as the song itself does; and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I’m not normally a lover of traditional British Folk Music; but Tim Dalling has certainly given me more ‘food for thought’ than I could have expected; and Eve’s Bonie Squad will appeal to bearded, Arran sweater wearing fans and waverers like me in equal measures.
Released May 15th 2015