Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
It is often surprising when music appears out of seemingly nowhere and the entrancing sound that follows the discovery is almost akin to tracing the White Nile to its source and finding that the waters are intrinsically linked forever to The Tweed; music and water are universal, they both play the same song in the hearts of humanity.
For Paul Chamberlain and Michael Haywood, their debut album First Impression is one in which to savour the joy of discovery that the accordion, saxophone, violin and clarinet not only sit together well as they dance upon the knife edge of innovation but they can produce such uplifting and gregarious beauty as it flows along the entire recording.
The range of traditional songs that will appeal to the listener is noteworthy but not as striking as the absolute richness in which Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Haywood perform, with the perhaps unusual combination of instruments, with innate and breathtaking significance.
It is the pleasure of hearing something that should be seen as a closely guarded secret that takes the journey for the heart to places that never seem possible, that the source of the White Nile and The Tweed are but the same places only interrupted by the remoteness of land.
In tracks such as the opening, almost forsaken and lonely, Shalakho, the excellent Traces of Thrace, the fantastic whirl of Hungarian Dance No. 2 In D Minor, Gentle Giant Set and the compelling and infectious Tango Pour Claude, the music speaks volumes, it soars and dips in places that are unexpected, unpredictable, suddenly sweeping as if the notes were sails driving the boat further out to sea and the crest of a wave pushing it towards foreign and interesting parts.
Trust in your musical partner is everything and both Mr. Haywood and Mr. Chamberlain have that arguably in abundance, the elation in the music exemplifies this and frames it with pride; it is a sense of pride that is noted, celebrated and above all prominent.
A wonderfully produced debut, serene, full of vigour and life, First Impression is after all what the planet seems to go by.
Ian D. Hall