Careless Receords, 2012. The Corndodgers: http://www.corndodgers.co.uk/band.php
The Corndodgers, hailing from Nottingham, England, have their third album out, entitled Stories for a Book. Beginning in 2007, the group went through a series of instrumental arrangements before finalizing in their current form in 2009. The impetus for the group came after the popularity of Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions. The Corndodgers’ sound is a mix of traditional roadside ballad and old-time string band, not easily pigeonholed. They sound like something out of the mouths of The Decemberists or The Pogues.
Stories for a Book follows in the style of The Condodgers’ earlier albums, Twenty Acre Farm and …As Thieves Would. The lyrics are the driving force of the music, wandering from topics of murder to revenge to drunkards. Their sweet vocal harmonies carry otherwise dark topics into playfulness and fun, although there is a distinct dissonance when hearing references to strawberry daiquiris backed by fingered banjo. While the sound is consistent from earlier albums, the move into original songs in this album and …As Thieves Would is a solid change for the group and highlights the abilities of Andy Victor well. Unfortunately, their first album is not available readily, but they do accept requests for a copy, and there have been copies on Ebay.
So Far, So Good weaves a tale of love and romance with a lively whistle and banjo backing. Forest Town is a drunken adventure song that fits surprisingly well for musicians hailing from the home of the famous sheriff. The Fever speaks of plague and sickness striking in the summer. Kalloni Bay is a jovial seaside tune that starts with a limping pelican. We Came Down From the Mountain speaks of those who have left their homes to work in backbreaking labor on slave wages. The Tailor’s Wife is a forbidden love with the promise of being together. How the War Was Won holds a tale of brotherhood and courage. The Bridge is a hopeful tune of spring, renewal, and the greenwood that does not end as well as it begins. Lynn’s highlight is A Sky Full of Stars and its wish for a private moment away in rest and joy. From the other side of a love story comes The Suitcase Story, a tale of endings. The sea shanty returns with The Rose of Jericho, but with a more American feel than British. The Four Sisters uses Celtic-style anthropomorphism, with four different birds representing the woman involved in this dark melody reminiscent of Loreena McKennitt’s work. Murder returns with All of Your Love but in a doleful way that fits with the topic. The Wedding Party features the weariness of love and the weight of life even in the midst of joy. As much as I enjoyed this album, it definitely takes more than one listening to digest everything, and I don’t recommend this for an afternoon pick-me-up unless you have the tracks on random or cut it off half way through.
This album may not be the first from The Corndodgers, and this may not be a group at the beginning of their careers, but look for more exciting tunes from this crew. And just because good music needs good food- here’s a recipe for you to make your own hopefully successful corndodgers.
Personnel: Andy Victor (vocals, guitar, cajon), Lynn Victor (vocals, guitar, cajon), Martin Curtis (vocals, guitar, cajon), Derek Spencer (bass guitar), John Hooper (banjo, dobro), Andy Stanton (flute, whistle and harmonica).
Tracks: So Far, So Good; Forest Town; The Fever; Kalloni Bay; We Came Down from the Mountain; The Tailor’s Wife; How the War Was Won; The Bridge; A Sky Full of Stars; The Suitcase Song; The Rose of Jericho; The Four Sisters; All of Your Love; The Wedding Party