Dirty Linen - p.56
"Today's Fairport...is faced with the task of balancing the band's folk-rock heritage with an understandable desire to perform new material. On OVER THE NEXT HILL, the group does a fine job honoring the former, and comes up with a generally worthy selection of the latter."
Mojo (Publisher) - p.954 stars out of 5
- "Simply, their best album in 25 years."
Fairport Convention: Dave Pegg (vocals, bass instrument); Ric Sanders (fiddle); Gerry Conway, Simon Nicol.
Personnel: Simon Nicol (vocals, guitar); Chris Leslie (vocals, mandolin, electric mandolin, ukulele, violin, Native American flute); Rob Armstrong (vocals, mandolin, acoustic bass, double bass); Ric Sanders (mandolin, violin); Andy Holliman, Mike Burnham (violin); Dave Pegg (5-string bass); Gerry Conway (drums, percussion); Chris Myring (electronics).
Recording information: Barford St. Michael (03/2004-04/2004); Oxfordshire (03/2004-04/2004); Woodworm Studios (03/2004-04/2004).
This album comes at a time of big changes for Fairport, with their own new label, and a face into the future, as the title implies. That's all brought a new attitude to the music, with a slightly rawer, more rocking feel, as on "Wait for the Tide to Come In," where Simon Nicol's electric guitar work simply sparkles. The oldest member of a long-running band, Nicol even takes lead vocals on a reworking on their 1969 hit "Si Tu Dois Partir," which even manages to incorporate the percussion break from original drummer Martin Lamble, thanks to the magic of technology, and thus connects the present to the past in more ways than one. Elsewhere the songs are of a consistently high standard, with Chris Leslie's "I'm Already There" a standout. In a couple of places the music veers toward that comfortable middle of the road space Fairport's carved out over the last few years, but they seem to jerk themselves away before becoming too complacent about the music. And when they do veer into instrumental work, "Canny Capers" is the equal of anything they've managed in the past, the twists and gyrations of its lines both daunting and entertaining. There's only one traditional song on this disc, "Winter Wassail," with its small surprises that proves great satisfaction. So what does this say about Fairport for the future? Other than they'll still be there, and that they're in the process of taking a long hard look at themselves, not a great deal. But if this new attitude and grit persists, there'll be plenty of excellent music ahead. ~ Chris Nickson