CLOUDSTREET: The FiddleshipWith their warmth, talent and loving stage presence, Australian duo Cloudstreet makes their audience feel that they are the privileged viewers of something very special. Combining contemporary arrangements of traditional ballads with original songs in a traditional style, their magic is marked by their dazzling vocal harmonies.
A "cloudstreet" is a row of thermals marked by cumullus clouds. When gliders fly from thermal to thermal by following the clouds, they "fly the cloudstreet", staying aloft for miles.
Cloudstreet - THE FIDDLESHIP
Roots Records - CDST03
Hailing from Brisbane (Australia) Cloudstreet's Nicole Murray and John Thompson are both excellent singers, combining an attractive freshness of attack with a
deft expressiveness. Their diction is clear and assured and their superb harmonies are a key element of their appeal, as evidenced in the healthy ratio of purely a capella tracks on the CD, of which the gorgeous "Winds of Fortune" has to be the standout (though John's sole rendition of "Plains of Emu" runs it close). They are strong instrumentally too, with the welcomingly understated drive of John's guitar setting into relief Nicole's prowess on flute; they bring an almost classical degree of poise to their renditions of tunes composed
in the traditional style. On three of the tracks they are also joined by Vicki Swan and Jonny Dyer. Cloudstreet have a definite penchant for the classic ballads which they bring to life in a distinctive way: "King Willy"
illustrates the duo's use of a "characterisation" device, whereby they adopt varying voices, tones and mannerisms to bring the tale alive. This is of course part of the armoury of the master storyteller, but with less talented
singers it would seem merely a cheap gimmick.
"The Fiddleship" is Cloudstreet's third CD. It's title alluding to Nicole's vocation as a sculptor and artist, using the image of the sculpture to represent the powerful vitality of traditional music. The title track is one
of just two Thompson originals, the majority of the album being drawn from Australian as well as British traditions. But they also tackle contemporary song, displaying a real ability to penetrate to the essence of a lyric; a good
example is "The Mill" (from the enviably prolific and increasingly well-regarded George Papavgeris), which is given an imaginatively stark, quasi-modal treatment. In all, I'm not sure that "The Fiddleship" quite amounts to Cloudstreet's best album so far (I'm still really fond of their debut), but it certainly contains some of their best material and performances.
fRoots 263, May 2005
"The Find of the Festival"(Fylde Festival)
"â€¦a delightful duo who not only inspire one another but put an indelible smile on the faces of their audiences. Strong harmonies, side-splitting stories and ballads brought to life in a way we hadn't seen before. Heartily recommended." (Nancy Kerr and James Fagan)
"With stunning harmony singing, and magical arrangements John and Nicole demonstrate energy, dynamism and the sheer joy of performing together before an audience. Singing acapella or supported by instrumentation of guitars, flutes, whistles and percussion their emphasis is on songs with a traditional feel which awaken strong emotional responses."
(Greg Watson - The Tablelands Folk Festival)
"Exciting, polished, and professional these folks have really impressed us (and we are not easily pleased). The cross section of material is perfect, traditional to new written and the voices and harmonies are wonderful and laced with skilful musicianship that works well for big stage or small clubroom.
On top off all that, they are damn nice people!
Book 'em .you won't be disappointed."
(Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman)
"One of the best nights we've had at the club. Fantastic harmonies, great material. Wonderfully entertaining. Cloudstreet are welcome back any time."
(Mike Gibson, Ampthill Acoustic)
"The best new act on the English folk scene. They warmed the hearts of everyone at the masses of festivals and clubs they have appeared at in 2003 including their fantastic performances at Banbury Canalside Folk Festival.
So much so, we have already booked them for the 2004 festival!"
(Derek Droscher, Ride a Cock Horse Folk Club)
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Fiddleship
2. Lady Maisry
3. Winds of Fortune
4. The Lock Flight
5. Plains of Emu
6. King Willy (with band)
7. The Diggins-oh
8. The Blacktown Jig
10. The Mill
12. Moreton Bay
13. Wilna's Dance