REVIEWS FOR DEBUT ALBUM "CALL TO MIND"
FATEA, August 2019
It is really quite a rare thing these days to hear a folk album based on the recorder. Instrumentalist Finn Collinson has chosen to release his debut album “Call To Mind” with such a focus, but before you all shout in horror that it will be like ‘Emily playing her school recorder through the wall of the adjoining semi’, this is a work of true quality. If schools had any sense this is the kind of stuff they’d be teaching their music pupils.
“The January Walk” provides the album with a vibrant start, driven along by bouzoukis and acoustic guitars, with “Elk River Blues / Chain Cotillion” giving a more sedate mood. The first of these is a beautiful Air, and the second has a hornpipe quality to it introducing Archie Churchill-Moss on diatonic button accordion, the first of a number other acoustic, woodwind or percussive inclusions. It’s a measure of Collinson’s quality that he was able to recruit such a high quality of ‘special guest’ musicians to play on this album: Churchill-Moss (Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys – guitar and button accordion), Katriona Gilmore (Gilmore & Roberts – fiddle), and Josh Clark (Kate Rusby – percussion, electric bass) together with Emma Beach (oboe, cor anglais, vocals), Jonno Gaze (drums, percussion), Tom Leader (double bass, guitars), and his sister Rowan Collinson (fiddle).
Continuing with the traditional “Hanging Johnny” Collinson provides the vocal for the story, with “Evie’s & Emma’s” beginning as an Air and building into a foot tapping folk tune, with superbly crafted acoustic guitar rhythms. “Ordinary Streets / Orange in Bloom” introduce an almost medieval atmosphere with Collinson’s recorder backed by subtle melodeon and a percussion section that I am struggling to describe as anything other than ‘Elizabethan’. It’s a unique mix, and for me creates one of the stand out pieces on the album.
Collinson duals the lead vocal with Emma Beach for “Banks of the Nile”. The voices are as flawless as the playing that pervades this excellent album. Starting as an almost acapella song this takes a traditional tune and builds in a contemporary beat and instrument mix that Seth Lakeman and his band would be proud of. The pace slows with the delicately structured and quite gorgeous “FolkEast Waltz”, and while the album combines a variety of songs and tunes that are differently paced, nothing feels out of place.
The curiously titled and rhythmic “Aardvark” showcases some of the finest recorder playing on the album, and reminds me of the instrumental offerings on Wolfestone’s 1997 ‘Pick of the Litter’ album. Terrific stuff. “Black Mountains” begins with Collinson playing solo, delivering a tune that will pull at the heartstrings, blending melancholy with hope, recorder with oboe.
The acoustic guitar beginning to Jimmy Rankin’s “Orangedale Whistle” changes the mood, adding gentle cajun dimension to this classic song. It feels like the musicians had fun with this one. The album concludes with “Tune for the Bullfinch” is stunning, and a fitting way to end a record of this quality. It feels like a reflection on what has gone before, the calm after the occasional storm, played with exceptional care and is an absolute gift.
The playing is magnificent, the tunes and songs on this fine piece of work are carefully crafted, and if you haven’t heard more of Finn Collinson before this year is out I will eat my hat (the cop-out here being that I don’t own one). A BBC Young Folk Award semi-finalist, this album will surely make you wonder how he didn’t win the competition outright. “Call to Mind” is one for the collection.
- John Reed
ARTREE, September 2019
Finn Collinson is a stunningly talented young multi-instrumentalist with seemingly endless talents and a host of successes to his name but this month saw the release of his official debut album Call to Mind; an endearing and playful jaunt that pushes on the boundaries of contemporary folk music and ushers him further into the spotlight.
Whilst Call to Mind is Collinson’s official debut album and arguably a solo affair, it is actually a rather star-studded affair with the likes of Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys’ Archie Churchill-Moss and even Katriona Gilmore of Gilmore & Roberts performing alongside him to bring to life an indelible collection of work that whisks you away with its whimsical notions and stirring ballads. Especially refreshing and atmospheric are the delicate reimagining’s of classics from throughout the ages such as Hanging Johnny, a firm fan favourite around the globe but with Collinson’s own unique and playful twist on it. Alongside these elegant reworkings Collinson has paired up with eight original tunes which are brought to life with a certain charismatic grace that is rarely seen on stage.
His music is in a word, elegant. Its sounds are delicate and intricate and no doubt that it is just that, but there is such a warming and resonant power that is held within his tender melodies that Call to Mind actually comes together as a virulent and robust collaboration of sound. Enigmatic blends wash over you as Celtic inspired tunes meld together with the jubilance of an almost nautical style and everything bubbles and spills over into a clashing genre of its own. Surrounding himself with dancing fiddle melodies and luxurious whistle and recorder, Collinson adopts a variety of instruments with which to bring his thoughts to life. An album that focusses almost entirely on the music and with the absolute minimal singing, what’s always startling is to find an album such as this where without a word, an image can be painted in your head as clear as day. From rippling waves crashing on the hull of a ship to the wind-swept grass on a craggy shoreline; Collinson paints as easily as any artist with a brush and firmly imprints these images in your mind.
Call to Mind is a versatile and stunning album that has a wealth of versatility with which to apply Collinson’s undeniable talent as he turns his hands to recorder, guitar, whistle, mandolin and bouzouki to produce a collection of masterpieces. With Call to Mind you can find a soothing calm or a slipstream of frivolity, whichever tickles your fancy.
- Joe Knipe
FOLKING, August 2019
We’ve all played a recorder sometime in the dim and distant past, whether we wanted to or not, but we never played like Finn Collinson. These days we usually hear recorders played in baroque ensembles or slightly fey folk groups but they don’t play like Finn Collinson either. Finn is a multi-instrumentalist but he makes various recorders the lead instruments on his debut album, Call To Mind, its title a play on the Latin recordari. He is supported by Emma Beach on oboe and cor anglais, Archie Churchill-Moss on button accordion, Rowan Collinson and Katriona Gilmore on fiddle with bass by Tom Leader and Josh Clark and percussion by Clark and Jonno Gaze.
The opening set, ‘The January Walk’, has all the hallmarks of the Celtic tradition but comprises three modern tunes while the second pairs the old-time ‘Elk River Blues’ with the old English ‘Chain Cotillion’ for a lovely slow set. Unexpectedly, Finn switches to song with a jaunty take on ‘Hanging Johnny’ which, as he points out, has nothing to do with execution. He also features banjo and mandolin on this one. ‘Evie’s & Emma’s’ are two of Finn’s own tunes which he plays on F whistle but he reverts to recorder for ‘Ordinary Streets’ which he pairs with the Morris tune, ‘Orange In Bloom’.
The second song is ‘Banks Of The Nile’, given a driving beat with the lead vocals shared with Emma. That is followed by three original tunes, ‘FolkEast Waltz’ (did I forget to mention that Finn is from East Anglia?), ‘Aardvark’ and ‘Black Mountains’. The third and final song is, appropriately, Jimmy Rankin’s ‘Orangedale Whistle’ before the record closes with the 18th century ‘Tune For The Bullfinch’ from a volume of tunes supposedly used to teach birds to sing. Did it actually work?
Simply by changing the emphasis of lead instrument, Finn has produced a lovely album which wouldn’t work anywhere near as well with all strings. Call To Mind is not revolutionary and it won’t scare the traditionalists’ horses but its delightful style should bring his name to a wider audience.
- Dai Jeffries
MARDLES, August 2019
This is the first full length album from East Anglian young musician Finn Collinson. An interesting and varied collection played by Finn on mainly alto and tenor recorders, also whistle, guitar, bouzouki, mandolin and vocals. Other musicians called in to assist on the album are Emma Beach (oboe, cor anglais, vocals), Archie Churchill-Moss (diatonic button accordion, guitar), Josh Clark (percussion, electric bass), Ronan Collinson/Katriona Gilmore (fiddle), Jonno Gaze (drums, percussion) and Tom leader (double bass, guitars). However, this is not a huge band effort and the musicians are used as tastefully as possible enabling Finn to shine as the main musician. The album does make a blistering beginning with full band tune set January Walk, there are two trad songs, Hanging Johnny and Banks of the Nile, sung by Finn and Emma, and a lovely version of the Rankin Family’s Orangedale Whistle, which, as Finn explains in the notes, is a song accepting and embracing change, something we must all do. He has included his own composition Folkeast Waltz, dedicated to John and Becky Marshall-Potter who, by creating the annual Folkeast Festival, have done much to promote local and national folk music in East Anglia. My particular album favourites are Black Mountains, Finn’s own composition played simply on recorder and Emma’s cor anglais, and Tune for the Bullfinch, from the 1717 Bird Fancyer’s Delight, beautiful overdubbed alto and bass recorders to imitate birdsong, merging into real garden birdsong. There are echoes of Flook and 1990s Irish band Diesel in the album, but this is an album focusing, unusually, on the recorder, where Finn has developed his own style. Call to Mind is testament to Finn being rightly considered as one of our area’s foremost young folk performers.
- Val Haines
SPIRAL EARTH, September 2019
From the Latin ‘recordari’ meaning to recall or call to mind gives this debut album by Finn Collinson its title. Recorder is one instrument I feel amply qualified to write about having reached a certain standard at junior school! My rendition of ‘Streets of Laredo’ has to be heard to be believed.
Mixing traditional and contemporary tunes and songs Collinson impresses from the start. Some of folk’s most prodigious talents in Archie Churchill-Moss on melodeon, Katriona Gilmore on fiddle, and percussionist Josh Clark. Sister Rowan Collinson on fiddle, & Emma Beach on oboe, cor anglais & vocals lend support. The album falls into two distinctive sections either showcasing Finns recorder skills in traditional arrangements and his own compositions or the outings with the full band. Although there’s much to enjoy in the former, the full sets, ‘Hanging Johnny’, ’Banks of the Nile’ ‘Orangedale Whistle’ all shine as exceptionally well executed folk rock pieces. Top of the tree for me being ‘Banks of the Nile’ a well-covered traditional song, here treated to a driving beat and guitar based rhythm which goes off at a pace after the start and features stand out recorder pieces intersected over the top of the band’s full sound.
Now alerted to the real sound of the recorder in its many forms any more Proctor demonstrations have been permanently shelved.
- Steve Proctor
THE LIVING TRADITION, November 2019
Hailing from East Anglia, Finn was a Young Folk Award semi-finalist in 2018. His speciality is the humble recorder in all its shapes and sizes, and he makes a really good case for this family of instruments on this, his debut CD – the title of which (neatly!) translates the Latin verb “recordari”. He sensibly varies his choice of lead instrument throughout, and selectively engages seven young musicians for sensitive and intelligently configured accompaniment on all but two of the tracks – viz. Katriona Gilmore, Emma Beach, Archie Churchill-Moss, Josh Clark, Rowan Collinson, Jonno Gaze and Tom Leader. As well as the recorders, Finn himself contributes alto F whistle on one track and occasional bouzouki, tenor guitar, acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, banjo, cajon and percussion elsewhere, but the total sound picture never appears in the slightest overloaded.
The disc comprises eight instrumental tracks and three songs. The former take us from a set of Celtic-inspired original tunes to a slow-air-style adaptation of an American old-time tune and three gorgeous waltzes, but the jewels in the crown are the intriguing pairing of Ordinary Streets (inspired by Britten’s Peter Grimes) and morris tune Orange In Bloom; the closing Tune For The Bullfinch; and best of all, a truly lovely duet with Emma’s cor anglais (Black Mountains) which potently evokes a sense of openness and space. In fact, the kinship between music and place is strongly present throughout much of Finn’s music.
The three songs may seem a touch wild-card in comparison. The best is Finn’s cover of Jimmy Rankin’s Orangedale Whistle, done as a gentle country shuffle with Katriona excelling on fiddle and supportive backing vocals from Emma. Finn shares the lead-vocal duty with Emma on an up-tempo Banks Of The Nile, while the remaining song is a full-band rocked-up take on the halyard shanty, Hanging Johnny, where Finn’s light-toned voice feels perhaps underpowered for the task. So, prepare to jettison all preconceptions about the recorder; for this is emphatically not an album of fey pseudo-baroquerie, but instead a gently stimulating exercise in showcasing the tenor, alto and bass recorder in new and exciting contexts.
- David Kidman