Fairport Convention Sense of Occasion

Fairport Convention Sense of Occasion

Fairport Convention’s 40th anniversary is marked with the release of Sense of Occasion, pausing the tired argument about which era of Fairport Convention is best. Few will dispute the fact that the band credited with birthing British folk rock have mellowed over the years — their once electric guitar-driven sound has morphed into a more sedated one dominated by mandolin, fiddle and six-string acoustic guitar. However, the vocals have always distinguished the band and relative newcomer Chris Leslie trades lead duties with original member Simon Nicol on a blend of songs that continue to marry the traditional to the contemporary. While Leslie’s influence steers the band slightly pop-ward, with his highly Beatles-esque "Keep on Turning The Wheel,” not to mention "In Our Town” and the beautiful "Spring Song,” Nicol’s contribution is best realised in the rich timbre of his authoritative voice, lending import to Fairport’s more historic fare. The band’s confidence is best reflected by their choice of covers, including two seamless numbers by XTC and Squeeze’s Glenn Tilbrook. Mastery over their instruments — long a Fairport strength — is demonstrated by three new instrumentals, showcasing the band’s timeless ability to swell the heart and fire the imagination. Sense of Occasion gives reason to reflect on the band’s considerable influence over the years, providing an opportunity to delight in their capacity for reinvention while remaining vital to the audience they serve. (Matty Grooves)