Borrowdale Johnny: Reviews

Rock N' Reel: January/ February 2008 * * * *

"Named after a particularly spectacular feature on a Cumbrian mountain, four-piece Striding Edge has, through several years of hard work, developed into a formidable musical force. Borrowdale Johnny, their second album, is a concept collection inspired by 19th century Cumbrian ballad 'Borrowdale Jwhonny' (sic) and the journeys of frontman/singer-songwriter Mike Willoughby, it's songs and narrative interspersed with a selection of suitably rustic and earthy fiddle tunes from the county, including the delightfully titled 'The Old Wife Pist And Paddled In't ', within the wildly exhuberent 'Raffles Merrie Nite'. The theme of emigration looms large, from within and beyond the very rural county of Cumbria, as Willoughby offers the poignancy of love-lost ballad 'Moving Away' and the dark mood of 'Wrapped Between Borders', whilst he and assembled company delve deep into their bag of talents for a brooding reading of 'Beggar Boy Of The North', on which bowed double bass and eerie bouzouki produce and evocative image.

Regular gigs as a folk dance band has helped develop their instumental skills and their ability to work as a unit whilst allowing each musician to shine, most notably in the versatile fiddle work of Carolyn Francis and in the melodeon and bouzouki of Willoughby, whilst the backline of double-bassist Rick Middleton and percussionist Ben McCabe serves as a solid rhythm section, whether they're dealing with a strange time signature, dub flavoured piece or traditional folk ballad. Acomplished, considered ans satisfyingly different."

Sean McGhee

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