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OxFolk Reviews: ‘Ignite’

Ben Ray looks at 'Ignite', the debut album of duo Will Pound & Eddy Jay

‘Ignite’, the debut album from the instrumental duo Will Pound and Eddy Jay, is a little known gem of the folk music scene. With Will Pound’s breezy, expressive and highly distinctive style of harmonica playing paired up with Eddy Jay’s beautiful accordion, this duo is set for big things to come. Although I was initially concerned with the lack of other instrumentation to bulk out the album, this duo manages to keep each track fresh and interesting, coaxing a frankly astonishing breadth of styles out of their instruments to create a colourful and diverse medley of tunes. Truly, the harmonica is back on the folk scene with a vengeance!

With both musicians holding a prestigious back catalogue of successes and collaborations, this dynamic duo has a lot to live up to. Will Pound has been nominated three times for BBC Radio 2 Folk Musician of the Year, and has worked with musicians and groups from Martin Simpson to the Will Pound Band, whilst Eddy Jay has played keys in a production of Noel Coward’s ‘Brief Encounter’ for Kneehigh theatre and has devised his own version of Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’. This wide breadth of skill and experience really shines through in ‘Ignite’, which forms a culmination of their talents and musical adventures. The album contains a generous mix of traditional and originals tunes, all shaped by Pound and Jay into arrangements for their instruments. The album opens with the storming track ‘Candle in the Wind’, with Pound’s harmonica leaping and fizzing and Jay’s accordion easily keeping time and embellishing the tune. There is a wonderful balance between these two instruments, each giving the other time to play with and shape the melody before joining again in a raucous, joyful dash to the final bars. This breakneck speed is more or less kept up by both Pound and Jay until the last, furiously fast notes die away on the final track- proving that, if nothing else, ‘Ignite’ is a testament to the musician’s sheer stamina!

The wide range of sources the traditional tunes on this album come from mirror the range of skills these musicians perform on this album- in spanning from Balkan dance tunes and Irish reels to a Swedish polka, the duo cover everything from bluegrass to waltz. These consummate performances from two musicians at the top of the game shows the folk world how underappreciated accordion and harmonica duets are- a problem this album will surely rectify.

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