Warblefly: Crashing Through the Trees

Although their third release, this is my introduction to this British folk-rock band. For someone who’s written almost exclusively about folk-rock on the world stage for the past several years, I must admit to being pleased to have finally heard this band, while at the same time, chagrinned for having not heard them sooner. Warblefly shoots out of the starter blocks in fine form with “Folk Ruts,” an alternative rocker in classic Levellers style with aggressive rhythm and melody-driven fiddle. “New York Gals” is a more guttural, punkish piece barely resembling my first exposure to that song – Steeleye Span’s 1975 version from COMMONER’S CROWN. “Devil in the Kitchen” is a deliberate instrumental very British sounding while “Going Home” incorporates a “down home” bluegrass or mountain style. “When the Rain Came” again recalls the Levellers but don’t let those two Levellers references give you the idea that Warblefly is purposely patterning themselves after that classic Brighton-based band. With their mix of British folk and punk flavored with occasional American folk stylings, and their attention given to the instrumental passages, Warblefly are true originals. Politics notwithstanding, “The Ballad of Ali Abbas” is the highlight of this album, with its rapid-fire rhythm and vocals coupled with an incredible melody and juxtaposition of electric guitar and folk instruments. It wasn’t until after several listens that I realized that I didn’t even agree with the sentiment of the song, but I didn’t care because it’s such a great piece.

July 2004

Review By Dave Sleger

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