Tarras / Walking Down Mainstreet
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Walking Down Mainstreet
Topic, UK

cd cover The sophomore outing for Tarras is a quantum leap for these young folk-rock upstarts. The packaging emphasizes Tarras' core threesome of Jon Redfern (vocals, guitar), Ben Murray (vocals, accordion, whistles, keyboards), and Joss Clapp (vocals, bass, mandolin), but Rob Armstrong continues to provide strong support on cittern, and the band's sound is expanded by a wide array of guest instrumentalists and vocalists. In my review of Tarras' first CD, I noted that the band's pedigree stretched back to having parents in England's wave of 1970s folk-rock bands. On Walking Down Mainstreet, Tarras' songwriting seems to pay homage to that era: Murray and Redfern's "Arizona" sure sounds like James Taylor, while their "Only One" had me scrambling to determine if they had found a lost Elton John gem.

I by no means intend to imply that Tarras sound derivative; rather, Tarras' music is immediately endearing. Like Eliza Carthy, their ability to write quality material coexists with refreshing takes on traditional tunes. "The Russian & The Radio" is a foot-to-the-floor instrumental stomper, ably assisted by Louise Peacock's rollicking violin. With "Ye Mariners," Tarras' version sticks their nose into perfectly swinging small-combo jazz, while the end instrumental "Bagels" assuredly places "Trad. arr." alongside the electronic beatbox. Walking Down Mainstreet deservedly lives up to the acclaim which it has received in the British press. - Lee Blackstone

Available at cdroots.com

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