Album, Single and EP Reviews



  Bag of Knives by Bob Bradshaw and Chad Manning

Bag of Knives cover art

Artist: Bob Bradshaw and Chad Manning
Title: Bag of Knives
Catalogue Number: No catalogue number
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2008

It's autumn once again. At least, here in Scotland it is. The leaves are falling, the breeze is cruel, and your car windscreens are no doubt cracking. It'd be good to get away from it, right? Well, US folk ensemble Bag of Knives has the most autumnal of sounds but the album should be played someplace cosy in order to be fully enjoyed.

"You Got No Say Round Here" proves to be a rather hostile start to the album in terms of its lyrics, but nevertheless is an impressive opener. What sets this album apart from singer-songwriter purgatory, however, is Chad Manning's vibrant fiddle and mandolin playing. On tracks such as "Desert Waltz", both instruments are the making of the song and whilst Bob Bradshaw has a strong voice, it would be somewhat less impactful if not for Manning's playing.

"Gathering" is based on a 16th century Dutch hymn. You probably wouldn't have guessed that unless you have studied Dutch hymns, I suppose and you'll feel at peace when listening to this one - it's not much like a hymn at all! Then out of nowhere comes a fast song! The penultimate track, "From the 2-Step to the 12-Step Once Again", will provoke you grab your partner and give her a spin with Manning's fiddle once again the driving force in the song.
Deep rooted in folksy seriousness, these guys offer great lyrical depth and apparent musicianship on an album that, while never particularly outstanding, is a fine listen from start to finish.

Available from CD Baby.

Review Date: October 26 2008