William Pint & Felicia Dale

Celebrating the ocean in song

Blue Divide reviews

(Waterbug Records WBG109)


Having performed ‘folk’ music for over thirty years I’ve only in the (perhaps) past two or three years truly appreciated the full worth of a good sea shanty with all its lustiness and let’s face it joy that it brings to its potential audience. Bellowhead, Chris Ricketts and Kimber’s Men have steered my thoughts to this recently and now we can add to that canon the USA based (who also tour the UK) William Pint & Felicia Dale with their excellent new release “Blue Divide”.

“On Blue Divide Pint And Dale have added a full drum kit to their already high energy arrangements of traditional nautical music.  The result is not merely folk rock, but rather folk that ROCKS!!  Playing opposite a drum kit, Felicia has been inspired to reach down deep, find and unleash her inner Eric Clapton with breathtaking results.  Her hurdy-gurdy play on “Anchor Song” would leave most rock guitarists gasping for air trying to keep up.  In short, Blue Divide is that great rarity- a folk album that demands you play it as loud as possible.”  

Art Dean,  WCNI Radio

PETE FYFE (UK folk magazine journalist)

With a slight departure from their usual recordings, the duo have ‘pushed the boat out’…sorry about that…and include the services of Dan Mohler (bass guitar), T J Morris (drums), Jay Kenney (keyboards), Tania Opland (fiddle) and Sue Tinney (vocals) to create a full-on folk-rock band sound. With the more than capable hands of Patrick Strole in the production chair (also electric guitar & percussion) they have made a good fist of the songs which include; “Whiskey Is The Life Of Man”, “Lowlands”, Windy Weather” and their own “Shanghai Passage”. Personally speaking I can’t recommend the CD highly enough even if you’re a land-lubber!

Suppose you like nautical authenticity well enough, but what you really want is something that rocks? Then I'd recommend William Pint and Felicia Dale's latest release, Blue Divide. As usual, Pint's lead vocals, guitar and octave mandolin are supported beautifully by Dale's sensitive vocal harmonies, whistle and fiddle. Best of all, Dale plays the hurdy-gurdy, a European stringed instrument which can sound like an organ, a bagpipe, or (when she really cuts loose) Jimi Hendrix. Unusually, they're supported on this album by guest musicians on fiddle, electric guitar and keyboards and a muscular rhythm section for extra punch. Their material includes traditional songs ("Whiskey is the Life of Man"), nineteenth-century poetry set to music (Kipling's "Anchor Song"), and modern sea songs (Brian Bedford's "High Ground"). There's an undercurrent of spookiness, with Janie Meneely's ghost ballad "Brigantine" and John Masefield's witch tale "Mother Carey" adding dark, supernatural elements. But there are also lighter, breezier moments, such as the bouncy chantey "Windy Weather." Their version of "Lowlands" even has another version of the "Lot's wife" line, which sums up the disc's no-BS attitude: "Beef as salt as Lot's wife's ass." The following video doesn't have the rhythm section, but it will give you a sense of their taste, energy, and musicianship:

Stephen D Winick

Folklorist, Music Critic, Editor

Huffington Post

Here’s a link to Steve’s entire article

William Pint & Felicia Dale - Blue Divide (Waterbug)

Pint and Dale continue their voyage around the world of nautical-themed music with another enterprising selection of traditional and non-traditional shanties and songs of the sea. This time round, the big difference is that they’ve brought on board Patrick Strole as producer, who’s helped bring to reality the "big sound" the duo often hear in their heads when playing their songs. This has entailed adding extra musicians to the already piquant and ably textured trademark Pint & Dale mix of guitar, octave mandolin, whistle, fiddle and hurdy gurdy, in the form of a rock rhythm section (Dan Mohler on bass, T. J. Morris on drums) with Patrick playing some tasteful electric guitar and Jay Kenny on keyboards (and guest appearances from Tania Opland on fiddle and Sue Tinney on vocal harmonies). The effect is now of a sturdy, forthright, vigorous, full-on reinvention of the music and myth of the seven seas.

Rocked-up shanties are nothing new of course; Chris Ricketts is the most recent convert to that cause, and by now we’re all used to partying the night away with Bellowhead, but Pint & Dale also give us maritime music with attitude, for their vision of maritime music is tremendously exciting and superbly energetic, and every bit as satisfying and stimulating. And with that extra dimension of brilliant musicianship, the couple are onto a real winner here.

The disc sets out with a quintessential shanty (Whiskey Is The Life Of Man, which also crops up in the Bellowhead repertoire), and along the way makes a strong fist of other shanties including Windy Weather and Lowlands (although the titles themselves are deceptive - the former being better known as Haul Away Boys, Haul Away, for instance); the latter even gets embroiled in a traditional fiddle reel for a lusty dance around the rigging! A brief faux-scratchy snatch of Rolling Down The Bay To Julianna seems mildly redundant, however, even in context.

The remainder of the disc is devoted to imaginative treatments of non-shanty items: Brian Bedford’s panoramic High Ground tellingly evokes images of seaside communities devastated by the climate, while Janie Meneely’s ghost-ship scenario The Brigantine is memorably conveyed here by Pint & Dale and their doughty crew. Peter Bellamy’s Kipling setting The Anchor Song really rocks, with some stunning hurdy-gurdery by Felicia; that track has its scene set rather potently by William’s spoken rendition of John Masefield’s chilling poem Mother Carey (given a thoughtful and not overdone background of engineering effects by Jay). Elsewhere, the duo lead us on a lively jig-style romp through Cicely Fox Smith’s Shanghai Passage, which is all very well, and good fun to boot, but for me it rather sidesteps the savagery and power of the poem. Still, I wouldn’t consider it a blot on the seascape in any serious way, it just makes another invigorating port of call on the incident-packed voyage. Sign up now - don’t wait to be press-ganged!

David Kidman

Folk Roundabout