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  • Writer's pictureAnne Connor

UK-Based Urban Folk Quartet Release New Album 'True Story'


Urban Folk Quartet


Featuring the recent singles Solsbury Hill, Coal Minin' Man, Indian Tea and Turning Point, the eight-track collection is arguably Urban Folk Quartet's (UFQ) most accomplished record to date, expertly embracing the visceral energy of a live performance with the technical precision that comes with studio recording.


True Story also sees the quartet divide their time equally between their trademark blazing instrumentals and vocal-led material.

 

As you'd expect from such a highly accomplished (and knowledgeable) band of musicians - multi-instrumentalist and producer Joe Broughton, Galician fiddle player Paloma Trigás, cajón king Tom Chapman, and banjo maestro Dan Walsh - the musical influences are joyously varied.


Take Coal Minin' Man, as a prime example - though built on bluegrass roots, the distinctive arrangement's rhythmic drive comes via funk and early-00s jazz influenced hip hop (impressing US roots/bluegrass bible, Bluegrass Today).


Elsewhere, The Whiplash Reel is informed by Bangladeshi folk songs, and the sounds of the sitar and sarangi, as much as traditional Irish/ Scottish jigs and reels - a combination that’s served with what Dan describes as "a pretty strong dose of Birmingham heaviness."

 

Though in no way a concept album, as the release came together, a loose connecting theme did begin to reveal itself.


"All of the songs are in some way about significant change of direction," explains percussionist Tom. "More specifically, they address the human impulse to find narrative meaning in our choices from a position of hindsight.


Between Solsbury Hill, Coal Minin' Man, Long Time Traveller, and Indian Tea, the bright, the dark, and the balanced approaches to picking a route - and the different relationships we might have with abandoned alternatives - are all touched upon.

 

That connection just seemed to emerge, and then seemed to be obvious in the stories behind the instrumentals too."


Work initially began on the collection around the time of UFQ's 2019 tenth anniversary – an event the band marked with a series of lauded live shows and profile festival appearances, all featuring an expanded eight-piece line-up. That experience opened the door to the idea of invited guests, with True Story’s tracklisting welcoming several notable close friends as well as family members.


Fairport Convention legend Dave Pegg lends his bass to album opener, and live favourite, Solsbury Hill, and elsewhere Chris While and Kellie While guest, as do UFQ's long-standing live sound engineer Ben Broughton (slide guitar) and Joe and Paloma's daughter, Sabela - nine-years-old and already an accomplished fiddle player.

 

Poignantly, the album also features the last ever performances from Sal Broughton (bass), who sadly passed away in December 2022, aged just 30.


"It became a real thing for me to get family and honorary family onto this album as it is the last musical appearance from Sal," says Joe. "It’s great that all these people are on the same album with him."


UFQ's seventh LP overall, True Story follows 2015's studio album, The Escape (featured in The Telegraph's Best Of Folk 2015 list), and 2016's in concert Live III ("fun, fast, frenetic" reckoned Bright Young Folk).


Since forming in 2009, Urban Folk Quartet have played everywhere from rural UK arts centres to 30,000 capacity European festivals, igniting audiences wherever they go.


Though rooted in ‘folk’, the accomplished quartet defy easy categorisation. With a distinctive and refreshing global outlook, they call on sounds from Galicia and the Mediterranean, Asia and Europe, as well as American bluegrass, Celtic traditions, Middle Eastern melodies, and rhythms from Africa, North India and South America.


Urban Folk Quartet - True Story


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