The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album 'A Cork Wake Tale' by Chris Bathgate

Review Snapshot: The latest offering from Michigan folk artist Chris Bathgate, ‘A Cork Wake Tale’ is a decent and rewarding listen. Similarities to Sufjan Stevens can be seen, but unfortunately his talent is not as great as his contemporary.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Chris Bathgate A Cork tale wake

Full Review: Chris Bathgate’s talent is certainly not going unnoticed in his homestate of Michigan where he won ‘Best Solo Artist’ by the Detroit Free Press. This album is his first UK release, and he has become the latest folk artist to be put on heavy rotation by BBC Radio 2.

The album opens with ‘Serpentine’. This sublime track turns out to be the highlight of the record. It’s a beautifully simple piano led ballad. Its cyclical melody sucks you in and absorbs you. While ‘Serpentine’ may be the highlight of the album, the rest does not disappoint. It is an eclectic mix of songs for a folk album.

‘Restless’ and ‘Smile Like a Fist’ see our troubadour let out his rockier side, while he is at his downbeat and melancholic best on ‘Madison House’. The use of a reverb-laden outro on ‘Last Parade on Ann St.’ and his use of horns throughout show Bathgate’s diversity. Despite the mix of sounds, this album does not lose focus.

‘A Cork Wake Tale’ is a fine album, well worth a listen. The fact that it never lives up to the brilliance showed on its opening track might detract from the album, but do not let that deter you. It is an absorbing listen that intrigues the ear on first listen, and rewards thereafter.

Garret Cleland

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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