Chris Bailey of Bournemouth-based Folk band Kadia contacted me recently, wondering if I’d like to come down to the West Country to check out one of their gigs – or failing that, review their (already highly acclaimed) debut album East Of Alexandria. Whilst I love that particular corner of England, I have no plans to get down there at the moment, but I was only too pleased to be asked to review their album. So he sent me a CD.
The band consists of Chris Bailey himself (Guitar / Vocals); Lee Cuff (Cello / Vocals); and David Hoyland (Uke / Mando / Percs / Vocals). Additional musician Rachel Bell was brought in for Violin on one track too. The boys have been together since Kadia were formed in 2012.
The album opens with their arrangement of the traditional ‘Wraggle Taggle Gypsy’. It is the fastest tempo version of the many that I’ve heard over the years – and unique for that. There then follows a collection of both trad songs and their own. All are quite remarkable in their construction; arrangement; musicianship; subject matter; and superb vocal harmonies. Several have nautical themes, but there is a extraordinary breadth of inspiration manifest in the band’s work. (refer to their website for details). My personal favourites are ‘The Beast Of Bodmin Moor’; ‘Mary In The Silver Tide’; The Navigator’; and the title track ‘East Of Alexandria’ (which is about the Battle Of The Nile, 1798). I’d also like to point out that the harmonies on the purely vocal ‘The Parting Glass’ are, it must be said, astounding well arranged.
The CD comes in a card gate-fold cover – the type with a plastic CD holder on one side. It has an interesting design like a naive medieval map of the Mediterranean Sea. The titles of the twelve songs are marked on the map as though they were ancient cities – curiously, all are actually marked to the West of Alexandria, not the East! No matter; its a charming design. There is some basic info (credits / thanks, etc) but no lyrics. There is more info however on the band’s website; including a useful downloadable songbook.
I’d like to see Kadia live at some point – perhaps when I next visit the West Country. In the meantime, I’m recommending this album if you like quality Folk music that combines the trad with the innovative; and / or if you appreciate excellent close vocal harmonies. PTMQ
For Kadia’s website… (Click here)