Blair Dunlop has quite the musical heritage; as the son of Ashley Hutchings (founder of the Albion Band and co-founder of Fairport Convention), and a singer and guitarist by trade, it is hardly surprising that, at the age of 20, he is already taking the folk world by storm.
Dunlop decided to pursue music professionally after leaving school, releasing an EP of some of his recordings on Talking Elephant Records and embarking on an extensive summer tour schedule during which he played at some of the biggest UK festivals. 2011 saw the release of his second EP ‘Bags Outside The Door’ as well as his nomination for the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, and since then, Dunlop’s star has continued to rise. In October of this year he released his first debut solo album, entitled “Blight & Blossom”, a collection of original songs interspersed with one of two re-workings of traditional folk tunes, and a record that has been on repeat on my Spotify account for several days.*
In 2011, Dunlop took over the reins of the Albion Band from his father. With the help of five other young folk musicians, he has succeeded in reinventing the band, maintaining its folk-rock traditions whilst at the same time demonstrating the flair of folk’s next generation. Any doubts about a Hutchings-free line-up were instantly dispelled by 2012’s ‘Vice Of The People’, with the Albion Band’s first studio album in its new format being met with great critical aplomb.
Dunlop has been hailed in signalling a “new dynasty” in English folk tradition, and for good reason. An accomplished singer, musician and song-writer, his impressive style is beautifully varied and distinctive. Precise musicianship coupled with a vocal and lyrical maturity mean that Blair Dunlop is definitely one to watch, both in the folk world and beyond.
* Interestingly, the artwork for the album was created by Elly Lucas, one half of “David Gibb & Elly Lucas”, whom you can read more about on one of my earlier posts.