LP / CD / DL
Manchester fivepiece The Travelling Band, famed for their wonderful live prowess and feelgood epicfolk, released their latest album, The Big Defreeze, on Monday. It’s been three years since their previous, critically lauded, release. Does it merit the wait? Dave Beech’s review suggests it does.
Whilst The Travelling Band might well be from Manchester, their sound couldn’t be more removed from the city’s almost-perpetually grey sprawl and in turn, those bands you automatically think of when you think of Manchester. Resting not on the romantic ideals of a Salford skyline, The Travelling Band opt to paint pictures of vast horizons, rural idyll, and a gentle sense of forward motion which pulls listeners along on a journey through a rich tapestry of folk and americana.
Opening an album with your lead single isn’t always the best move for a band. On the one hand, it can grab one’s attention, and providing what follows is equally arresting, keep it held throughout a record’s duration. On the other hand, however, it can mean the opposite and end up being the only track that holds ones attention. Fortunately, opening with their recent single ‘Passing Ships’, The Travelling Band fall in to the former category.
Much like the album from which it’s taken, ‘Passing Ships’ is a quaint and emotive journey, on which you can read our review here.
Having found the delicate balance between faster, more upbeat tracks, and those which harbour a more traditional folk sensibility almost perfectly, The Big Defreeze rolls towards its conclusion at an excellent pace. Tracks such as ‘Garbo’ and ‘Quicksand’ provide some early crunch in the universally polished production.
Perhaps one of the records strongest moments comes just after the halfway point in the form of ‘Borrowed and Blue’. Starting subtly enough with a bed of understated instrumentation and singer Jo Dudderidge’s emotive vocal, the track mounts quickly, culminating in an almost psychedelic breakdown, before order is restored and it closes with some excellent guitar work. Interestingly enough, ‘Borrowed and Blue’ also signifies a shift in tempo for the record, resulting in a far more folk-heavy second half. The timing is perfect, and it shows that the three years spent between releases for The Travelling band weren’t three years wasted.
As mentioned earlier, there’s nothing in their music which even hints at the bands metropolitan roots, indeed, their sound is far more suited to lazy evenings in the countryside then heavy nights in the city and it’s this which makes the record, and the band themselves, so impressive; a refusal to be bound by the geographical has allowed them to create a record which harbours universal appeal and perhaps more importantly, illustrates a band at the very top of their game.
Dave Beech is an aspiring music journalist based out of Manchester. He writes and edits for a number of different websites and links to his work can be found over at his blog, Life’s A Beech, as well as his Louder Than War Author Archive. He also tweets as @Dave__beech.