Locust Honey String Band - 'Never Let Me Cross Your Mind' - cover (300dpi)The second album from Locust Honey String Band is an interesting proposition; singer and fiddler Chloe Edmondstone has paired up with guitarist and singer Meredith Watson to form the core of the band and they’re supported on the album by Andy Deaver Edmondstone (bass) and Hilary Hawke (banjo) and Ariel Dixon (banjo and vocal) to produce “Never Let Me Cross Your Mind”, an album that’s a three-way split between Chloe Edmondstone originals, traditional instrumentals and covers of country and roots classics. Without the original material this would have been a good album, but the three Chloe Edmondstone songs add a slightly modern twist to the mix of wonderful playing and superb harmonies.

Original songs apart, this is an album that’s firmly rooted in the Appalachian String Band tradition; this is very much music for dancing as well as listening, perfectly demonstrated by the relentless energy and flawless execution of the three traditional instrumentals, “Boogerman”, “Logan County Blues” and “McMichen’s Breakdown” which are neatly spaced throughout the album. The three originals, “When the Whiskey’s Gone”(featured in the new Richard Gere film “Time out of Mind”), “Horse Drawn Buggy” and “How You Must’ve Felt” are all taken at different tempos but share the common country/roots theme of the unreliable man, and are spaced out across the album, breaking up the covers into small clusters including a couple of Carter Family songs to show off the harmonies, a very dark take on “Henry Lee” and a George Jones song about drinking (no kidding).

It’s unfortunate that the very sound of Locust Honey String Band will alienate some of the unenlightened, because the swirling interplay of fiddle and banjo (and sometimes guitar) and the achingly perfect keening harmonies are things of great beauty which should have a place in anyone’s musical palette. Recording engineer Joel Savoy has managed to capture the intimacy and the balance of the instruments and voices perfectly, creating a sound that’s somewhere between studio precision and a raw live feel.

My only reservation is that however good the recording, this is music for live performance; it’s supposed to make everyone in the room sing along, tap their feet and get up and dance. The only way to really get the full effect is to see Locust Honey String Band play live and you can do exactly that on their upcoming UK tour (details on the band’s website).

“Never Let Me Cross Your Mind” is out now on iTunes.