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Gilmore and Roberts - The Innocent Left (Navigator)

Star rating: 
4

Dropping both first names as well as the now familiar 'Gilmore Roberts Records' growling record label number, the Barnsley-based duo join the ranks of Lau, Bellowhead and Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman at Navigator Records for this, the duo's highly accomplished third album. Anyone who might have caught Katriona and Jamie in concert, whether that be in a supporting role to Fairport Convention or in their own leading role category, they will be more than aware of the Horizon-nominated duo's musical dexterity, especially in Jamie's familiar lapslapping guitar style and Kat's left-handed fiddle and mandolin playing. They will also be aware of the duo's down-to-earth stage manner as well as their highly approachable presence at the concessions stand. On record, we don't have that visual presence at hand, instead we rely heavily upon the music exclusively, which in this case may just have surpassed all that has gone before.
 
With many artistes these days, we see critically acclaimed debuts followed by many attempts to live up to those first inspired flourishes of genius. With Kat and Jamie it's all done in reverse, with each album surpassing its predecessor in terms of confidence and quality. This is largely due to Kat and Jamie's determination not to rest on their laurels, their tireless work ethic and their insatiable desire for collaboration.
 
Produced by Julian Simmons, THE INNOCENT LEFT features a small bunch of highly regarded musician friends such as Georgia's Megan and Rebecca Lovell of Larkin Poe, on lapsteel, dobro and mandolin respectively, each of whom also contribute their inimitable vocals on Katriona's Shuffle and Deal, together with The Old Dance School and UFQ's Tom Chapman on percussion. Dennis Hopper Choppers' Ben Nicholls also appears on double bass with Will Foster on piano, whilst Graham Bell provides the flugelhorn on Jamie's excellent Louis Was A Boxer, a gorgeous song about a regular visitor to the sandwich shop Jamie worked at during his university years.
 
Katriona makes no secret of her love of bluegrass music, inviting Cia Cherryholmes to appear on the duo's previous album UP FROM THE DEEP for instance. On Kat's instrumental Over Snake Pass, possibly Britain's only truly American sounding thoroughfare, the duo are joined by Rebecca Lovell for a nice mixture of Celtic fiddle and bluegrass mandolin. For those of us who are forever entranced by Kat and Jamie's signature sound, look no further than Seven Left For Dead, a powerful instrumental showcasing the sparring capabilities of both Kat and Jamie with some inventive percussion provided by Tom Chapman on darbuka and cajon.  Other songs of note are Kartiona's beautiful Silver Screen with some tasty dobro courtesy of Megan Lovell and Jamie's The Stealing Arm which closes the album, a sprawling ballad based on John Ashton's The Thief's Arm. If you buy only one album this month, make sure it's this one. 
 
Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky