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Alden, Patterson and Dashwood

Roots Music Club, Doncaster
Friday 25 January 2019

I don't know why it should come as such a surprise to us when Christina Alden, Alex Patterson and Noel Dashwood break out their instruments from their respective cases and stand next to one another on stage; for some reason we just don't expect such a gorgeous sound to come from these three unassuming musicians. From Norwich, this trio have found a way of making their instruments sing, the Dobro, acoustic guitar and fiddle dovetailing perfectly together, each instrument engaged in the most conversational musical dialogue, matched measure for measure by Christina's highly distinctive voice and the trio's impressive vocal harmonies.

I normally keep very much out of the way at the Roots Music Club until after the sound checks, when the stage has settled into a warm glow, the bar shutters have been raised ready for business, the guest's CDs eloquently displayed on the concessions table at the back of the room and Stu Palmer is putting the finishing touches to the sound desk, cheerfully scribbling the last few important notes on the tape attached to the bottom of each fader. Tonight though, I felt compelled to arrive early enough to hear those sound checks, simply because I just can't get enough of the sound this trio makes.

After a rather fine opening set by Kiverton Park folk stalwart Dave Oldroyd, the trio lined up on stage for the first of two sets at the Doncaster venue, the trio's first time here and almost certainly not their last. Selecting material predominantly from their two available albums CALL ME HOME and BY THE NIGHT, the three musicians soon had the attention of the small but cosy audience. So tight are their harmonies that it's almost impossible to identify who's singing what. 

It's not immediately obvious how we should categorise the material this trio performs, as if we should categorise music in the first place. Certainly there's the sense of the old timey mountain music involved here, with a sprinkling of Bluegrass throughout, yet it all sounds rather contemporary in feel. If Red Rocking Chair's opening a cappella verses can be directly traced to music of another era, as can such songs as Railroad, Bonnie Blue Eyes and I'll Fly Away, it's their treatment of such material as The Time Song and By the Night, that bring us bang up to date with these self-penned songs based on modern literature, themes borrowed from Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife and Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, both of which add to the trio's originality.

With Christina's voice leading the way, with the one exception of Noel Dashwood's entertaining Ferryman's Court, the trio remained note perfect throughout the two sets, both of which concluded with an acoustic performance, the trio joining the audience off stage, for something even more intimate and communal; a nice touch that made the evening all the better with the audience wanting more.   

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky