Tuesday, June 2, 2015

CD Review - St. Beaufort - Germany

 CD Review by:  Niall Toner 
St.Beaufort are a three-piece Acoustic Band based in Germany, whose members are from Canada, Germany and the USA, and who share a strong common interest in string band and folk music, and who concentrate on their own original compositions.
This, as far as I'm aware, is their debut Album, and with twelve original Songs, it's an ambitious project, to say the least.

Let me begin with a few small gripes, one of the most important being the fact that I find the sleeve design to be very dark, and hence, difficult to read the notes and composer details. [ Could be my eyes ! ] I also think that the inclusion of a least one well known song might have helped, and they face an uphill battle in terms of securing Radio air play.
On the positive side, these guys play and sing with great enthusiam, featuring Guitar, Banjo and Mandolin, with occasional Accordian, and super tight three-part Harmonies throughout.
Track one is WOLF, a grassy original, followed by A MERCENARIES' BAND, which starts out sounding like a traditional Sea Shanty, and ends up sounding like a DUBLINER'S ballad. IN SPADES has a very nice folksy finger-picked guitar, has an interesting Chord progression, and again feraturing fine harmonies. HOUSE ON A HILL has an up-tempo old timey feel, and might be the most popular track, with a very catchy' love song' hook. MOUNTAIN, track 5, has a folksy feel, and this is the first track that features the Accordian. I'm not sure who is playing it, but this, sometimes dominant instrument, is used sparingly tasty and musically on this track. FAMILY is a song which also features strong three-part Harmony, which sounds mildly British in style to my ears. WALKING THE DUST is a little more close to what we know as Bluegrass, though not in the strict sense, but could be one of the songs on this recording that might well be covered by other Bluegrass Bands. ANTOINE has a very tasty melody line played between Mandolin and Banjo, and is a modern folk song style composition. CALAIS sounds to me that it might well be based on an actual experience, possibly from the Canadian member, as there are references to Mounties and Canadian borders. This song also has interesting chord progression. NOTHING TO HIDE has a nice 'morning' feel to it, and gives the listener the impression of a long journey, and paints a strong picture. OUT OF SERVICE, the last track, is another modern style folk song about relationships.
As I said in the beginning, this is a very ambitious project. The mixes are a little 'rugged' in places and might point towards perhaps spending a little more time on their next recording, working on pace, timing and tuning. Also, wearing my Songwriter's hat, I found, in some cases here, very little connection between the titles and the body of the songs, but then maybe breaking the rules is all part of the adventure? And I'm an old-fashioned guy. It's not, as I said, Bluegrass in the strict sense, but provides a treasure trove of new material, some of which may well find it's way into the mainstream.

Niall Toner /  June 2015. 

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