Review archive: Green Diesel – “Now is the Time”


Folk bands. You can’t move for them in Kent.

There could, in fact, be a case made for a website called Somebody should snap up the domain name sharpish.

It is, of course, a situation mirroring what is a national and even international trend. No doubt the second effort of nu-folk pioneers Mumford & Sons will turn in a tidy profit upon its imminent release.

But folk music of a slightly more traditional bent also looms large at the moment. Enter Faversham’s Green Diesel who have just released their debut: the appropriately named, given this preamble, ‘Now is the Time’.

The record follows in the steps of the likes of Fairport Convention whose ‘Liege and Lief’ introduced, (and reintroduced) fans of rock to the sound of that genre’s forefathers.

As is customary with many folk acts, there are plenty of Trad. Arr. tunes to amuse here:  ‘London Pride/Eliza Lee’, ‘Rolling Sea’ and the fantastically named ‘Roy’s Presbyterian Catharsis’ featuring the traditional tune ‘Presbyterian Hornpipe’.

But original songs and tunes form the majority of the album, either wholly or woven together with music by that most prolific of composers, Anon.

The resulting offerings are a slight updating of Fairport Convention’s sound: a thicker sounding production with heavier, funkier bass lines (‘The Greatest Show on Earth’) and occasional singer-songwriter aspirations (‘The General’s Lament’).

‘Now is the Time’ is full of standard folk themes, described with a perfect folk delivery by lead singer Ellen Care: women pining for their lost sailor loves (‘Unjust William’), tales of adventure on the high seas (‘The Saga of John Ward’) and servant-women treated unjustly by over amorous masters and their friends (‘Rosemary’s Lane’).

Even the more contemporary sounding ‘The General’s Lament’ is awash with folk-ish references to soldiers suffering in wartime.

The album starts with ‘Fire and Wine’ which proceeds through similar territory explored by Galley Beggar (they also have a new, second album out), a celebration of the seasons in all their glory. It concludes with ‘The Hop Festival Song’, something of a hoe down of a tune, returning to the sense of seasonal celebration found in the opening song.

‘Now is the Time’ does little in the way that is new with the folk genre. But that is part of its appeal. Their original songs have the air of authenticity about them that it is often difficult to tell them apart from the genuinely older material.

The rocky sounds of ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ (ignoring the problematic spoken word section) recalls the gleeful chaos of The Charlie Daniels Band’s ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ while the instrumentals, such as opening number ‘London Pride/Eliza Lee’, are engaging and atmospheric.

The contemporary sensibility of Green Diesel could easily offer a way in for people nervous of approaching the folk genre.

Originally published on 12 September 2012.

For more details about Green Diesel, visit their Facebook page.

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