By the time John Spiers & Jon Boden had hung up their highly regarded hats as the Spiers & Boden duo in 2014 they had earned a place in the hearts of the folk audience that few could rival.
Described by The Guardian as 'the finest instrumental duo on the traditional scene', Spiers & Boden first rocketed onto the music scene in 2001, quickly winning a clutch of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards and going on to take the folk scene by storm. John and Jon were also founding members of the pioneering and hugely successful folk big band Bellowhead, whose stellar career increasingly came to dominate their time. But now, after exploring solo projects, the duo return with 'Fallow Ground'.
It's an album bursting with ideas as well as a new-found confidence to let the material speak for itself. The songs and tunes selected for 'Fallow Ground' are overwhelmingly traditional – a clever mix of rambunctious melodies and contemplative ballads – and are the classic Spiers & Boden mixture of morris tunes, pieces brought back to the 21 st century from dusty manuscripts and, of course, a rare ability to conjure their own remarkable tunes.
'Bluey Brink' comes from the repertoire of Peter Bellamy and is the duo's first foray into the world of Australian folk song. 'Butter and Cheese and All' also comes from Bellamy, although this version is Sam Larner's and is also known as "The Greasy Cook". The title track, also known as "As I Stood under My Love's Window" is an unusual traditional love song in that it's neither boasting of "conquest" nor is it lamenting betrayal or abandonment...
There are also original tracks, including 'The Fog', 'Bailey Hill / Wittenham Clumps' – the first tune written by Jon, the second by John, both about hills which mean something to them and 'Giant's Waltz / The Ironing Board Hornpipe' which is inspired by the Giant's Causeway.