Folk music isn’t known for big stars, not in this day and age anyway. It’s a genre which is filled with artists who seem compelled to make such music rather than use it as a stepping stone to more rarified, celebrity places. And as such it is filled with people studiously beavering away, writing, touring, releasing albums and just getting on with the job at hand of being a working musician. People like Serious Sam Barrett, who over the last decade has released an impressive salvo of albums and singles.
Where The White Roses Grow is a fantastic collection of new songs beating with old musical hearts, they live in the modern world but they hark back to perhaps simpler musical times, times when folk music was about story telling, communication via the medium of song, straight forward, unfussy and honest. And so it is here and a testament to his abilities is that you are hard pushed to tell the three traditional inclusions from his own compositions. But this isn’t some sort of nostalgia driven exercise, this is the sound of folk music moving forward while still staying close to its roots.
This is also folk music in the widest, globe trotting sense of the word and for every track that feels at home on the tumbling English countryside, such as the deft and dextrously picked Last of The Yorkshire Outlaws, there are songs such as Bonaparte’s Love Song which is shot through with Appalachian Mountain vibes. And for every frantic work out, such as the title track itself, there are delicate ballads and one finer or more heartfelt than Darling Where You Are, you would be hard pushed to find.
Folk music is universal, it’s just that we tend to give it different names but Where The White Roses Grow is the perfect reminder that although there may be an ocean between us, the music of America and Europe share important and undeniable musical DNA. Some wag in the past may have described us as two nations divided by a common language but the reality is that we are two nations united by a common music.