Album Review: Green Diesel – The Hangman’s Fee

Green Diesel have been making steady and well-deserved progress in increasing their presence over the last few years now, propelling themselves to greater stages with every step while never ceasing in their desire to hone their skills to the very sharpest they can be. The Hangman’s Fee marks the release of their third feature album in just a few short years although it has been close to three years since the incredible Wayfarer’s All and the wait has been agonising.

The frequency with which we book Green Diesel for shows here at Artree should be a fairly good indicator of our high opinion of them. However, on a personal level it also happens that the band have produced some of my favourite all-time songs. This means that I hold them and their work to the impossibly high standard they have set for themselves and I expect perfection and nothing less. That said, after their previous album I had genuine doubts that they could ever manage to match such an album, let alone surpass it. Yet surprisingly this is exactly what the band have managed to do as they have brought to life everything you have come to love about them and stretched their incredible musical talents even further and challenged themselves on a whole new level. They have provided an album that is full of everything you can come to expect and yet something different lurks underneath as they flex new muscles and wander down unexplored avenues.

The Hangman’s Fee is frankly going to be a bit of a heavy hitter when it comes to the folk world. It is deep, resonant and extravagant as they burst to life with a hurricane of sound that washes through their contemporary blend of folk music and enlivens it with their deep sense of fun. That is a large part of their beauty; the fact that no matter how unsavoury – or in some cases just flat out morbid – their content they always bring it to life with a playful nature and a strong sense of camaraderie throughout. Each song plays out like a carefully crafted and finely tuned masterpiece but most importantly, beating at the core of their work you can hear the sound of a large group of close friends who are loving every note and moment.

Green Diesel have always taken the folk of old and breathed fresh life into it, covering some of the greatest songs and tunes around whilst creating some of their very own alongside them. The Hangman’s Fee furthers this in new and bold ways as a rich experimental vein runs throughout. They still have their raucous nature that sits alongside their dextrous and more solemn songs but now their music veers in new directions, touching upon a variety of genres and aspects the most notable of which is an almost ethereal aspect that sits just on the cusp of being haunting. Acute bursts of these haunting tunes occur on occasion in the album and echo tones not dissimilar to the Moutlettes. The album they have created feels as though it is alive, a remarkable beast that lives in perpetual motion and changes its mood like the weather.

Jump at the Sun is a glorious song, possibly one of the best on the album, and yet it seems to exist in a fragmented state, almost combining two disparate songs and tying them together loosely to create a patchwork tale. The song opens with something dark and jaunty, vaguely sinister and somewhat ominous – a feeling that grows as you find yourself swinging to the tune but then all of a sudden that darkness disappears and you instead find yourself swaying along to something far more jubilant and lively. All of this in the space of just a few minutes. Indeed their album almost plays itself out like a dark and disjointed fairy tale that takes you on a whirlwind tour of emotions in an ever-undulating story.

The Hangman’s Fee is yet another unadulterated masterpiece from Green Diesel, a group who play together in one of the tightest and most harmonious bands on the circuit today. Ellen Care’s infectious and charming vocals are elevated with every note by the phenomenal band behind her and with every note they ensure that they create themselves new and more impossible standards.

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Review by Joe Knipe