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Review by Elle Wrightson
Stanley Brinks and The Old Time Kaniks have reunited for their new album, Vieilles Caniques et Nouvelles Caniques. Stanley Brinks’ playful mode of storytelling creates entrancing lyrics while the duo of a fiddle and banjo strips folk music back, resulting in an exciting album with a cohesive sense of identity.
The album is split over two CDs, the first being Vielles Caniques meaning Old Kaniks. With a focus on love, heartbreak and longing, the lyrics are passionate and relatable. ‘Hard Hearted Woman’, track eleven, encompasses the sound of the album as a whole. It tells the story of a lady who is ‘the apple of my eye’ but as the title suggests, she has barricaded love. The lyrics draw to no resolution. With the knowledge that their love is difficult, you are left to draw your own conclusions. The contrast of the banjo and fiddle which are quick and punchy drive the song forward.
By relatively simple inference, we know that second album, Nouvellas Caniques, means New Kaniks. The sounds are more reflective and the lyrics show contentment. They move from ‘Your Brown Eyes’, a slow and evocative song, into ‘Right Down My Alley’ which is upbeat and quirky. Love is central to both of these songs, as it is the central theme of both albums.
Though they are some of the more subtle songs, they emphasise the duos progression and development from their first album. Despite a double album never being the intention, the tie between them is intrinsic. You can slip between the albums with ease due to the interlinking themes and sounds. This is helped by the interjections of songs such as ‘Au Luxemborg’ and ‘Jeanne-Marie’ which are sung in French. The two albums have evolved from each other, a positive development as a result of their collaboration.
Stanley Brinks and the Old Time Kaniks have created an uplifting and intriguing album with a definite sense of sound. The albums are well balanced so that the instruments complement each other as well as Brinks’ voice, even when he slips between English and French. Their collaboration has resulted in a fresh and uplifting twist on folk music that can be enjoyed by music fans of wide-ranging tastes.