The Animals Are in the West
(Green Fingers, 2000)

Ola is a group of three young musicians who were finalists in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2000. They are accomplished players and have very sweet melodic voices.

Unfortunately, they are too sweet for my personal taste. I imagine that Ola would be mesmerising in a live performance, interacting with an audience. Sadly, this is not evident on the album The Animals Are in the West.

They have a lovely sound but this in itself can make them difficult to listen to. Folk music needs an edge -- at least on some tracks -- and Ola simply does not give it one.

They seem determined to provide their versions of traditional songs. I love this idea -- up to a point. Some of our best-loved songs are today very different from the original arrangements. But to take a sea shanty like "Bold Riley" and perform it as a soft love song is just a leap too far. As a sea shanty it was written for a purpose -- to work to -- and as such does not accommodate re-arrangement.

Other tracks on this CD include their take on "Reynard the Fox," "Si Beag Si Mor" and "The Clumsy Lover."

While I would love to hear more from Ola, I found this CD very difficult to like and the rather infantile liner notes and lack of lyrics did not help.

[ by Nicky Rossiter ]
Rambles: 26 January 2002