Bath, England is the latest foreign locale to contribute a group to the international bluegrass scene. Acoustic quartet Cardboard Fox has recently released its debut, self-titled EP. A collection of four band originals, the EP offers listeners a brief taste of the band’s bluegrass-tinged folk sound.
According to the group’s website, all four members are accomplished instrumentalists, having each won several contests throughout England. The songs here certainly display their competence, with a full, polished sound, but the focus seems to be more on creating an overall feel than on showing off their musical chops. Nonetheless, Laura Carravick’s fiddling and John Breese’s bass playing are particularly of note.
The first two songs on the album are credited as being written by all the members. The first, Ego, has a nice groove and a biting retort at an ex-lover: “You are better on your own, you know you’re never alone when you’ve got your ego.” Green Skin seems to be a twist on the story of the Wizard of Oz, making the Wicked Witch of the West a somewhat more sympathetic character. It’s an interesting lyrical choice, accompanied by a jazzy feel and a mandolin-guided interlude of the Wicked Witch’s Theme from the movie.
Balloon is a gentle, melodic piece written by guitarist Charlotte Carravick. Its melody meanders wistfully along with the singer’s worries about someone she loves. The instrumental arrangement on this song, also by Charlotte, is very enjoyable and well-done. Someone Else’s Shoes has a 90s folk-pop feel. Written by mandolin player Joe Tozer, the song expresses regrets about not being able to view bad situations with another person’s point of view. The addition of bowed bass on an instrumental break near the end of the song is a nice touch.
Cardboard Fox is a talented young band that has a great grasp on the folky, progressive bluegrass sound that is so popular today. It would be interesting to see how the addition of a banjo might change their sound, especially since Breece is described as “one of the country’s top banjo players” on their website. Regardless, the musical sampler they offer here is a nice introduction to the group that will likely leave fans ready to hear more – not bad for a group without a banjo.
For more information on Cardboard Fox, visit their website at www.cardboardfox.co.uk. Their EP can be purchased from a variety of online music retailers.