23rd October 2018
Released to celebrate their tenth anniversary as a duo since meeting while studying at Leeds College of Music in 2006, In Our History – Live is the first live album from Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts – a joyful ramble through the pair’s back catalogue. With multiple BBC Folk Award nominations and four excellent studio albums to their name, Gilmore and Roberts have well and truly established themselves as pioneers of the contemporary folk circuit.
Opening with two lively tracks from their 2012 release The Innocent Left, Katriona’s Doctor James and Jamie’s Scarecrow set the scene, both demonstrating how well their narrative-heavy song-writing has developed over the decade. That album also contributes two further tracks, Katriona’s Silver Screen – a tribute to the touring musicians’ ever-reliable sat-nav device – and Jamie’s The Stealing Arm, a delightful song based on a 19th century tale of an unfortunate fellow who, having had an arm transplant, finds that the donor was an inveterate thief, and consequently the arm continues the criminal activity against his will. (Well, it could happen!)
The duo’s most recent album, Conflict Tourism is also represented, with Jamie’s strong vocal on Selfish Man and percussive mandolin and guitar on Cecilia particularly impressive.
The 2010 album Up From The Deep provides All I’ve Known, and Fleetwood Fair, the latter, in particular having been a live favourite since the early days. Jamie’s Billy Green, written for the Songs for the Voiceless project commemorating the First World War centenary is a poignant highlight, telling of a soldier’s thoughts the night before going ‘over the top’.
It’s folk, folks, but not as we know it – these are stylish acoustic compositions with contemporary arrangements. The duo’s individual voices harmonise perfectly, and they have learned how to pair Katriona’s fiddle or mandolin and Jamie’s guitar, often played lap-style and percussively, to optimum effect. Their live performances, particularly at festivals, often feature and benefit from additional musicians, but here the stripped-back duo arrangements are still more than adequately full and showcase the songs brilliantly.
In Our History – Live demonstrates how far Gilmore & Roberts have travelled musically in the decade they have been together, with a sizeable canon of excellent original material behind them and a confidence in live performance which belies their still very young years.
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