The Routes Quartet, Windrose. Album Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

The string quartet is one of delight, harmony within the bow and the wood, a sound that carry heaven upon its shoulders and yet break your heart as easily as a first school crush. Many make much of the virtue of four guitars working in tandem or the beat of a double sided drum kit banging out in unison the call of the wild and the snare of a trap well laid, yet a string section, regardless of whether in pairs or by the full blown orchestral promise, can take your heart to places it never knew possible and the mind into the realms of deep fascination for the sheer synchronisation possible.

In The Routes Quartet’s delicate and intense mix of cello, viola and fiddles, their arrangement of instrumental poise is one to savour and in Windrose they take their united thoughts out into the world and offer more than harmony, they propose a concord of agreement, that each slide across the strings is one that fulfils the message of hope and rage all in the same breath.

For Tricia Mullen, Gráinne Brady, Rufus Huggan and Emma Tomlinson Windrose is a special spectacle of just what a quartet can bring to the ears of the uninitiated, the sense of rising passion shown in full open colour throughout the original compositions and whilst showing deference to the classic Folk tradition.

In tracks such as Night Mouse, The Gentleman’s Farewell, The Quartz Jig, Drimmin Otters and the album’s wonderfully stirring finale On Land And Sea, the foursome agitate the air with acclaim and beguilement, it is the tyrant who does not appreciate the call of such teasing beauty and timing.

The marking out of an accent used to be one that would have those less than pleasant and accepting in life reaching out and degrading the sense of adventure undertaken as nothing more than radical, the wind that blows against its nature; yet the distinctive instrumental voice that comes across in Windrose is positive, kind and alluring and for that should be seen as the sense of modern generosity finally taking root.

An album for which your ears will praise your taste and your sense of adventure for, Windrose is an album in the classic Folk tradition but one that acknowledges that it has a part to play in the revolution of its genre and its heritage.

Ian D. Hall