Fellow Pynins are an Oregon-based contemporary folk duo comprising Dani Aubert (claw-hammer banjo, bouzouki) and Ian George (guitar, mandolin); I have no idea where their name derives from, but the title of this new album, their second, comes from the term coined by the American writer Sylvia Wright referring to a mishearing of words that sounds similar, especially a childhood memory of mishearing the line “layd him on the green” from the ballad The Bonny Earl of Murray.
As such, the pair take the notion to underpin their different hearings – or interpretations – of the traditional folk songs featured here, starting with Silver Dagger, although arranged for dappled banjo and guitar, Aubert singing lead, this doesn’t stray from other familiar Appalachian-hued readings. Rather more radical is Pretty Polly, which, while hewing stark Appalachian path, reworks the murder ballad narrative, combing the original lyrics with those from Woody Guthrie’s Pastures Of Plenty and some from Aubert so that, rather than the woman being killed by the lad who impregnated her, he decides they can raise the child together.
Digging into Scottish folk, the lazily swaying The Road And The Miles To Dundee features dual voices against a simple fingerpicked guitar pattern, followed by the more ghostly sounding Bonny At Morn with its sparse and moody musical colours of icy piano notes, pizzicato banjo and mournful strings. As per the title, the violin-hued Streets Of Derry, sometimes known as Derry Goal (with a melody reminiscent of Come All Ye Fair And Tender Maidens), is a rebel song in which a young woman laments her lover is to be hanged, arriving in the nick of time with a pardon, while, featuring trumpet and trombone drone and whisperingly sung by Aubert, the impressionistic She’s Like A Swallow is more atmospheric and haunting, morphing into more avant-folk territory in the final stretch with its rumbling muted percussion and improvised-like spectral brass.
Sharing verses and vocals once more, Aubert again in hushed tones and with a similar jazz brass burnish Son David returns to murder balladry for another minimalist pastoral ambience, the brass again stepping out of the shadows for the final flourish. After some in-studio chatter, the album ends back in Ireland with The Galway Shawl, starting with what sounds like a distantly sung Cappella field recording before morphing into a studio version double-tracking Aubert’s vocals against George’s strummed guitar.
Lady Mondegreen is not so radical as to alienate the purists but sufficiently filtered through a contemporary folk lens to attract audiences wanting fresh readings. Fellow Pynins have made a fine contribution to the canon that respects the heritage while ploughing new furrows.
Fellow Pynins UK & Ireland Tour Dates
July 1 – Americana Fest at the American Museum – Bath, England
July 2, 3 – Maverick Music Fest – Easton, Woodbridge, Suffolk, England
July 6 – Frome Music & Arts Festival – Frome, England
July 7 – Fishery Wharf Cafe – Hemel Hempstead, England
July 10 – Brockwell Green House – London, England
July 11 – The Bell Inn – Bath, England
July 13 – John Wesley’s New Room – Bristol, England
July 14 – The New Adelphi Club – Hull, England
July 15 – The Live Room – Caroline Street Social Club – Shipley, England
July 15, 16 – Southwell Music Fest – Southwell, England
July 17 – Hawk’s Well Theater – Sligo, Ireland
July 20 – Sea Church – Ballycotton, Ireland
July 28 – Levis’ – Bally De Hob, Ireland
July 30 – Cobblestone – Dublin, Ireland
August 3 – Lismore Town Hall, Isle of Lismore, Scotland
August 4 – An Tobar – Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland
August 9 – The Montrose Playhouse | Cinema & Art Centre – Montrose, Scotland
August 10 – Pianodrome at the Old Royal High – Fringe Festival – Edinburgh, Scotland
August 12 – Carol Nash Hall – Manchester, England
August 14 – Peggy’s Skylight – Nottingham, England
August 17 – Llantrisant Folk Club – Llantrisant, Wales
August 18 – The Arc – Rhayader, Wales
August 19 – Nest Collective – London, England
August 21 – The Square & Compass – Worth Matravers, England