Fairport Convention: Over the next Hill

By strictly unofficial count this is Fairport’s 30th studio release. While not their most impressive release in recent years (in fact, it could be said that this is their most lackluster effort of the last 15 years or so) this album is still reflective of the perseverance and willingness to adapt that this band has adopted for decades. For those inquisitive few who’ve heard the name repeatedly but were never formally introduced to this band, Fairport have been in existence since 1967 and in ’69 introduced to the world a brand new genre of music called British folk-rock via their seminal album LIEGE AND LIEF. That, in turn, opened the door for Irish folk-rock, thanks to (then) fiddler Dave Swarbrick’s inclusion of the occasional Irish jig in his repertoire. Well, 35 years have since passed and this band is still legit. This may not be to the liking of strict alternative and punk folkers, as this is more accurately described as acoustic-based folk rock. However, every release in Fairport’s vast catalog is noteworthy simply because they have never slipped into the dark and outlandish abyss that many of their contemporaries have experienced in desperate efforts to appear relevant. Anchored by longtime bassist Dave Pegg and guitarist Simon Nicol, Fairport has most recently added multi-stringed instrumentalist Chris Leslie to the family. He compliments fiddler Ric Sanders nicely and has filled the role of chief songwriter as well. Highlights in clued the instrumental “Canny Capers,” the upbeat “Willow Creek” and the country-tinged “Westward.”

November 2004

Review By: Dave Sleger

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