This ‘Gilmore & Roberts’ article was written by James Roadknight, a GIGsoup contributor

4*Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts are an English folk duo, BBC2 Folk award nominees and winners of a Fatea Award for their 2012 awards for their song ‘Doctor James’ – taken from their album The Innocent Left, which was also runner up for album of the year. Their latest album Conflict Tourism is their fourth to date and cleverly offers something a little extra and unexpected.

Conflict Tourism follows a year’s tour of Europe and Canada, as well as the UK, and features – oddly enough – songs about conflict. Gilmore claims that “Conflict is universal” and that the pair acted as tour guides through “a minefield of different decisions and drama” – an ambitious mission statement, and a possibly overblown one. Despite grandiose claims, the album is surprisingly grounded, opening with the earworm ‘Cecelia’; a song that’s more pop than folk, but is nonetheless masterfully crafted. This album contains entirely original songs, with typical folk instrumentation (violin, guitar and mandolin, and two voices, with bass accompaniment), but with many of the songs – like Cecelia – lacking the typical folk music conventions. This doesn’t mean that Gilmore and Roberts have taken a step towards the unbearable attempts, by the likes of Mumford & Sons, to popularise folk music by diluting it, rather the pieces have been thoughtfully written to play off their differences.

That’s no to say that Gilmore and Roberts can’t still be relied on to produce ‘traditional’ folk songs – the fiery ‘Jack O’ Lantern’ and ‘Peggy Airey’ and the much more sombre ‘Selfish Man’ and ‘Balance/Imbalance’ are testament to that. But the duo are able to go further by producing the more pop-based ‘She doesn’t like Silence’ and, of course, ‘Cecelia’ which open their genre up to a wider audience without necessarily ‘selling out’.

This is not ‘typical’ folk or pop music, but demonstrates the capabilities of both styles of music in such an appealing way that the gap between them is bridged.

The expression ‘dynamic duo’ is overused, but the flexibility in styles and great instrumental proficiency shown by Gilmore and Roberts with their most recent albums puts them ahead of the competition; they have dared to branch out and this wonderful creative effort can only be considered a success.

‘Conflict Tourism’ is out on the 18th September via GR! Records

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