Phil Beer and Steve Knightley(and the Afro Celt production team Emmerson and Mass, and Miranda Sykes) have produced a fabulous album that blurs a lot of musical boundaries.
Witness is likely to be bought and enjoyed by any fan with open ears and an interest in folk music or the wider world of rock, world music or Americana. It may seem controversial for folk purists because it doesn't always sound like folk music, and with politicans and other people who see the world in pure black and white terms.
It reminds me of some of REM's softer rocking moments, of Richard Thompson's best early work. And if you liked Seth Lakeman or Kate Rusby and the Afro Celts you should like this
It's a difficult task to produce music which spans the range I've described, but they pull it off. As the album runs from the rhythmic acoustic power and depth of ideas of Witness, Roots and the Falmouth Packet/Haul Away Joe medley to the quieter emotional stories of the Dive and Union Street(Last Post), there is the consistency of well written music and great singing .
The songs sound fully developed, mostly honed in live performance, and lifted from the acoustic sound of two excellent musicians by intelligent sympathetic production and overlaying in the studio .
And there are quirky gems:
-Innocents song/ Gwithian mixes original poetry (Charles Causley) with an overdubbed fiddle sound that could be the Velvet Underground
- ironically, when Bruce Springsteen is trying on folk for size, SOH have produced "Undertow", a perfect West Country song that Springsteen would be very proud of if he had been born in Cornwall.
If this goes on much longer, even a broadband modem will give up - listen to some samples and make up your own (broad)mind