''Get your confession ready 1, 2, 3, I'm going to give you the third degree:'' Trad jazz beyond all faddery that caught us first here with a shanty-like motion scooped up and served impressively on 'Orchard Fruits' the west countryness of the Bristol band Around About Dusk part of the blend. Rachel Lawrence's cooing, neatly understated, vocal and deft accordion playing - and she writes some of the engaging originals on the album in addition - including a neat pen picture on 'The Mouse' the little creature ''surviving off a thimbleful of gin'' leading us into an antique sound that can go florid on clarinet and thumps along thanks to firm bass, guitar, drums and celebratory trumpet. Recorded live (the vocals are a bit too underamplified in the balance) last year at King's Cross London trad jazz redoubt the Jamboree on St Chad's Place, the band against the odds of the opening find a fetching foxtrot-like teeter sway to leap around on Lawrence original 'The Moon' and cover Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton's 'Wildman Blues' in a very English 1950s style sporting a trumpet line (from Joss Murray) that even gentleman of trad Kenny Ball could have delivered. Lawrence's voice works well on the love lorn trot-a-long 'Falling' and the band do a fabulous version of 'Who Walks In When I Walk Out?' introduced by Elsie Carlisle in the 1930s and covered later by Ella Fitzgerald the absolute highlight. Small caveat 30s novelty song 'I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones' might get on your nerves after a few plays. But got your penance ready as the adultery confrontation song 'Who Walks In' lyrics have it? Clearly fess up. But mainly for the relief of japes and the gas rather than self-flagellation. Lawrence proves a characterful life force and moves the band along in buoyantly shipshape and Bristol fashion at all times. Imagine how Around About Dusk, photo: press, would sound with pukka studio sound and the right kind of ears in a producer steering the boat who doesn't iron out all the things here that make the band so appealing and ungeneric. Bearing in mind their obvious early jazz style preferences Lawrence's unique sound is just inching to emerge that bit more dialling in from such a classic Giles Gilbert Scott kiosk of a gem of an album to greet a whole new irony-loving generation that would make the joke at their own expense even if they were pulled up yet again by some bluff older geezer in a blazer indicting all of youthdom for not knowing what a red phone box let alone a phonograph looks like or even that Right Said Fred isn't their idea at all of Fred Astaire. Piled high with vim and full of fun filled moments the time travel imaginings of Around About Dusk do not come over at all hokey even when such a game crew are pelting along at full chug.
Live at the Jamboree is available here
- Playing The Canteen in Bristol this coming Wednesday to launch the recording