Alden, Patterson and Dashwood have followed up their debut from the tail end of 2016 (Call Me Home, an exceptional album that was a highlight release for many people, including myself) with By the Night, which develops and continues in that style of beautiful songs, superb playing and vocals plus that wonderful spacious production that gives the songs such clarity and room to breathe. Less is most definitely more.
As anyone who has seen them perform live will testify, AP&D are a very tight musical trio who obviously have a close bond as friends too, evidenced by their outstanding sets at FolkEast recently where they received a prolonged standing ovation from every one of the 500+ people lucky enough to be present for their Moot Hall set. This chemistry is carried over into the recordings where Alex’s fiddle, Noel’s dobro, and Christina’s guitar and vocals are all clear, expressive and flawless whilst the backing vocals are rich, and the warm harmonies are also spot-on throughout.
It opens with The Time Song, inspired by the novel The Time Traveller’s Wife, which is followed by the title track and one of the album highlights. Whenever I hear By the Night now I am immediately transported back in time to FolkEast and the whole audience gently singing along with the chorus.
Bonnie Blue Eyes is their lovely interpretation of a traditional American folk song with probable Scottish origins. Red Rocking Chair features an a cappella opening showing off their vocals and harmonies in fine style before its instrumental close.
The Cobbler’s Daughter is an extremely moving and sensitively composed piece based upon a couple who vanished in the Alps in 1942 whilst tending their cattle, and their daughter’s relentless search for them, finally locating their bodies in 2017 aged 79.
Blow the Wind is a Northern English traditional air with lead vocals by Noel, the trio have written the music and added an extra verse to the original. This is followed by Railroad, a folk song they were inspired to cover after hearing the Crooked Still version.
Kingfish is another AP&D original, inspired by David Attenborough’s Africa series. A beautiful and atmospheric slow piece with each individual instrument given the perfect amount of space in the mix alongside Christina’s expressive vocals.
The Nerves is a Noel original instrumental and the album then closes with Ten Thousand Miles, a traditional English folk song which the trio have re-arranged.
By the Night really is a wonderful album, there’s a quiet confidence at work and a very clear vision of how they want to sound and be heard making for a highly enjoyable listening experience, it has a lot of warmth, soul, integrity and purity. Their friendship and mutual respect for each other and the folk music they love is apparent in the performances both live and on the recordings. By the Night has gorgeous production by Alex and is also beautifully and lovingly packaged physically, with Christina-designed artwork hand-printed to form the cover and inner sleeve.
Norwich should be very proud of Alden, Patterson and Dashwood, anyone seeing them outside of Norfolk at any of their numerous festival appearances this summer will have quickly realised just what a big deal they have become further afield. It’s not surprising given the calibre of their songs, recordings, live shows and their development. They are masters of their craft and By the Night will only enhance their rapidly growing reputation and well-deserved recognition.
By the Night can be purchased at gigs or at the online APD store here.