“Windrush” – Daniel Nestlerode

4 stars (out of 5)

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“Windrush” is quite a box of tricks. To say it’s eclectic is a bit of an understatement; Daniel Nestlerode romps through a kaleidoscope of styles, sometimes in unexpected combinations, none more so than the title track.  “Windrush” is a headlong rush of an instrumental, combining elements of folk, Dick Dale and Ennio Morricone in tribute to the spirit of the people who came to United Kingdom from the Caribbean in response to adverts designed to fill labour shortages in the UK after the war. It’s a tribute to the courage that it took to uproot and travel thousands of miles to create a new home in the grey post-war landscape of the UK. The piece evokes the surging of an ocean voyage and gradually builds to a climax employing acoustic and electric mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, bass, harmonium and percussion.

The album is a combination of personal and socio-political themes, conceived at a turning-point in Daniel Nestlerode’s life. As an American living in the UK with a French spouse and UK-born children, The Brexit vote was a crucial factor in moving and resettling the family in France. His new local music scene, with rock music predominating, also meant that Daniel incorporated some of his earlier musical experience in the US into the mix, bringing in electric guitars and mandolins, drums and bass at various points in the album.

Coming at such a critical point in Daniel’s life in terms of family upheaval, musical rediscoveries and political uncertainty, it’s inevitable that “Windrush” would be a bunch of contrasts; traditional folk meets rock, electric meets acoustic, vocal meets instrumental, beginnings meet endings, personal meets political and old life meets new life. This is an album that’s being pulled in many directions, yet still managing to sound cohesive, and that’s quite impressive.

The album is topped and tailed by the same piece, “White Flower Waltz”, opening as a short intro and closing as the full version. I’ll leave you to guess what the time signature is. The covers on “Windrush” are an interesting selection; “The Vacant Chair” and “The Parting Glass” are American and Irish respectively and the traditional instrumental “Blackberry Blossom” gets a makeover with a few key changes to cause a bit of a fuss with the purists. The really interesting choice is the Victoria Vox song “C’est Noyé”, which has a strong resonance personal resonance for Daniel and neatly ties in with the Brexit references: ‘Et ils nagent, comme des poisons sans frontière, sur cette terre ronde’ or, roughly ‘The fish swim without borders on this round world’. And, if you didn’t know, “C’est Noyé” means “It’s Drowned”.

However, it’s the songs written by Daniel that supply its emotional heft; “Unexpectedly” telling the story of the meeting that led to marriage, “Living the Dream” dealing with the move to France and “Being a Boy” detailing the joys of family life. The songs and settings of “Windrush” are hugely varied and the album has genuine emotional power.

“Windrush” is released on Clunk & Rattle Records (CRLP021) on Friday August 28th.