Multi-instrumentalist folkies Bellowhead are back with their fourth studio album Broadside which hit record stores yesterday.
Nevermind the nu-wave folk stars as Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling, this 11-piece band are ploughing a mainstream furrow rarely accessible to purveyors of traditional music.
“The basic difference between us and the Mumfords etc is that we play music that’s one or two hundred years old, and they write their own music,” Jon Boden, vocals, fiddle, tambourine, tells The Independent online.
Not that Bellowhead are unhappy with the comparison. “It’s nice to be bracketed with Mumford & Sons because they are enormous,” Boden says. “It’s nice to be seen as part of something that has captured some kind of zeitgeist. They play their own instruments so we do share common values.”
Bellowhead’s third album Hedonism was the highest-selling independently released traditional folk album of all time, although it reached a rather modest peak of 57 in the UK album charts.
They are hoping that Broadside (a title that cunningly melds an early form of printed song sharing with an appropriate nautical reference to firepower) will hit the top 40 in its first week of release.
“We were quite keen to make the most of the success of Hedonism for our next record, being aware that the follow-up would be in the public eye, in so far as traditional music can be,” Boden says.
“It had to be an album that would follow through with a mixture of fun, accessible stuff as well as quirkier and more challenging – by which I mean, for us- interesting stuff. Music that would work for the live shows which are very much central to what we do.”
Anyone who has seen a Bellowhead gig can’t help but agree. BBC 2’s Simon May calls them “The greatest live act in Britain.” Their joyful, rousing tunes get feet stamping no matter how muddy or rain soaked the setting, which is why they’ve played more than 20 festivals in the last three months.
To promote Broadside they’ve got their biggest tour yet lined up starting in November.
Like Hedonism, the new album is produced by John Leckie who has previously worked with Stone Roses and Radiohead .
Bellowhead was established in 2004 when Sheffield-based Boden, who had played previously with John Spiers and a group of Oxford-based musicians, teamed up with a group of jazz musicians to form a big band.
Broadside is out now; UK tour 6 - 24 November
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