Never Been Better
While folk music evolves all around them, Bellowhead are rooted in the past.
That is, after all, their calling card. Not for this band the modern rockist leanings of Mumford & Sons or Noah & The Whale, and you'll definitely never find them dabbling in the folktronic arts. Bellowhead keep their music organic and their lyrics purely traditional, and they're not for turning.
It's pretty tricky to turn an 11-piece band anyway, but otherwise the weight of personnel can be an advantage. Strength in numbers means strength in sound, and fifth album Revival doesn't scrimp on keeping things busy. Opener Let Her Run heaps brass upon woodwind upon strings for a stirring intro, but even that's out-batted by the crashing, country-tinged Roll Alabama. This album is Bellowhead's major label debut for Island and perhaps there's a bit of cash flying around.
No advances in the world could save the hackneyed lyrics, mind. Revival's chock full of the kind of fare that would've seemed standard in – what? – the 16th century? "If you will go down to Rosemary Lane/Where every rose grows merry and fine," trills vocalist Jon Boden, "You'll pick me out the finest girl there/And I will make her a true lover of mine". It's nursery rhyme stuff, joined by endless references to ships arriving in port or Greenwood's classic "There was a lady/A lady of York", and while it's all fine in context, in deliberately hamstrung folk songs, it just makes you wonder what the point of it all is. The conservatism detracts from any value in the music.