I love Bellowhead and was keen to hear Spiers and Boden as a duo, and Vagabond is where I arrived. This album is a complete delight, Spiers and Boden perform with gusto and sensitivity, as and when the pieces require. They have a delightful symbiosis that is a joy to hear, and a canny knack for interpretation that is apparent throughout, not to mention the ability to create such a big, wholesome din, for just two guys with acoustic instruments.
Swaggering, jaunty upbeat pieces are dominant - Rambling Robin being a particularly nice example, in keeping with the loose theme of the album of songs about outsiders and rogues - but the jewel in the crown here to my thinking is The Rain It Rains, a mellower piece where Jon Boden was commissioned to create a (very lovely) tune to go with verses from Shakespeare. The Birth Of Robin Hood is another highlight. Of the instrumentals my favourite is Speed the Plough/The Princess Royal, or maybe the Welsh tune Gentlewoman (Y Fenyw Fwyn), I can't decide, both are quite different from each other, the former high-stepping and showy, the latter quite dainty and respectable, and it was a nice touch to include the short Vignette (a gentle reprisal of the tune from Tom Padget) to bring proceedings to a close.
There isn't a weak track on the album, it is a beautiful thing, it's vibrant and brimming with life, and really you should only hesitate to buy it if you prefer your folk music pallid and anaemic and laying listless on a bed of synths.