(4 / 5)
He and his music have been called “absolutely terrific” by the BBC Radio 2 Folk Show and it has also been said by the music press that that as an artist, Dan Walsh “is an inspiration”. Nominated for best musician at last year’s BBC Folk Awards and touted as one of the finest banjo players in the UK, as well as being a superb singer, songwriter and guitarist, Dan is a real rising star in the folk world and making many friends.
British, Irish and American folk music delivered with a healthy dose of funky grooves – all performed with his unique and dazzling take on clawhammer style banjo. Dan is also an in demand session musician with recent guest appearances, on stage or in the studio, with the likes of Imelda May, Joss Stone, Seth Lakeman, the Levellers, Duane Eddy, Martin Simpson and even the City of London Sinfonia.
“Verging On The Perpendicular” does nothing but confirm those accolades. It a bright and breezy, feel good affair, where he revisits his first musical love; traditional Irish and Scottish folk music. But it is a fairly eclectic range of music, while revisiting past influences. The original reason he took up the banjo was to play Irish/Scottish folk music after hearing some blistering jigs and reels from the likes of Gerry O’Connor and Barney McKenna.
But not one to conform, Dan ended up playing a completely different type of banjo from the one he’d heard. But despite forays into different kinds of music, he always wanted to come back to those wonderful session tunes. The new record offers up traditional tracks including a pair of Irish polkas, a jig and a reel mixed with two of his own compositions, and an old song called The Suilin. Plus a tune of his called The Vaults, influenced by his great mentor Ken Perlman, whose speciality is arranging a reel with variations, rather than the traditional medley option.
There’s even a pair of 7/8 tunes, the second of which was written as it sounded like an Irishman writing a Bulgarian tune! As usual some of the original songs are influenced by his world travels. “Leave This Land” is about his sadness of leaving New Zealand after a month there. “Want What You Don’t Have,” recalls the many conversations he had with people about the pros and cons of the travelling musician’s life. “Going To The USA”, tells the story of his hassles of getting hold of a work visa in time for his first tour there.
Lots of references to his love of American roots music too. “Funky Haystack” showcases his love of funky banjo. “Leave This Land” is a cracking bluegrass cut, and there’s also some blues in “Out Of Here”, one of two tracks to feature Urban Folk Quartet colleague Tom Chapman on percussion. The 11 track-album is more stripped back than his previous release, virtually everything here is completely solo apart from the two tracks featuring the afore mentioned Tom Chapman and harmony on a couple of tracks by producer Mark Hutchinson.
The latest album comes two years after his acclaimed 2015 album “Incidents & Accidents”. “Diesel & Smokes” was his solo debut in 2006, then an album with Brock Zeman; “The Bourbon Sessions,” as Zeman and Walsh in 2007. He released “The Same But Different” in 2012. The latest CD is his fourth solo album and fifth album release. As well as many tours of the UK, he has also had successful tours in USA, Canada, Germany, India, Norway and New Zealand to his credit. Dan has an extensive UK tour between April and August this year, plus a US tour in May and June.
By Simon Redley
(1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’