(4 / 5)
Nicely done chaps. Nicely done…The very impressive debut album from four very talented musicians who collectively call themselves Assembly Lane.
A quartet of young Newcastle-based musicians immersed in the shared musical traditions of The British Isles and North America. Their dynamic arrangements of traditional and contemporary material from both sides of the Atlantic, effortlessly blend ancient ballads and progressive bluegrass with rich vocal harmonies and instrumental flair.
Assembly Lane are Matthew Ord (guitar, vocals), Tom Kimber (mandolin), Niles Krieger (fiddle, vocals) and Bevan Morris (double bass). None of the band’s members are native Geordies, they were drawn together from both sides of the Atlantic around Newcastle’s thriving music scene.
Their choice of material reflects these varied origins: ancient British ballads sit alongside selections from Basement Tapes-era Dylan and tales of truancy from New England, peppered with vibrant progressive bluegrass compositions by superb mandolinist Tom Kimber. Putting me in mind of the great Chris Thile at times.
It all sits together snugly, and creates a very pleasing and even listen. The musicianship sometimes overshadows focus on the songs; and that is meant in a positive way, because all four of these guys can really play. But there’s palpable chemistry seeped deep into this gifted ensemble’s work.
Unfussy arrangements from the band and solid production values from the man in the hot seat, producer Josh Clark. He’s worked with the likes of Kate Rusby and Flook and knows his stuff. He has surely helped bring out the best in Mr Ord, Mr Kimber, Mr Krieger and Mr Morris here.
Recorded over a long weekend at Josh’s ‘Get Real Audio’ in Bath, “Northbound” possesses a maturity and subtlety that is not usually to be found on a debut album. In an effort to faithfully capture their live sound, the band recorded all the parts simultaneously, using only their voices, guitar, bass, fiddle and mandolin throughout.
A lovely job from a bunch of guys who will be around for a long time to come, and I am sure will be releasing a lot more CDs. They should be be taken seriously by all genre-relevant record labels and will evolve into a “must have”, for any credible festival and gig booker on the folk and roots music circuit here and overseas; if they are not already.
The musical ‘Sat-Nav’ should point Northbound, for sure…
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’