Rakoczy is Hungarian by birth but has spent most of her formative years in a city I know well, Manchester. Therefore she tips her hat to Mancunian flautist supremo Michael McGoldrick, also adds Tom Waits, Lady Gaga, Blowzabella and The Peatbog Faeries for good measure, I’d say Kate Bush as well. You might tag this as wyrd folk, except it isn’t fully, it’s just distinct, individual.
Matters start to make a bit more sense when you find Jon Loomes in the producer’s chair and wringing the strings of a mean lead guitar, Heather Sirrel on bass and Edwin Bessant on drums. This trio make up three fifths of Pilgrim’s Way whose ‘Stand & Deliver,’ was a real explosion of electro, rock and unplugged intentions rounded on the tradition. It was also criminally overlooked! Seek it out if you know what’s good for you.
Having established she’s in the company of certified adventurers, ‘Front Runner,’ is put in some sort of context. There are a number of themes running through the eleven tracks, the obvious one is horses: trad horses, dead horses, disguised horses, ghostly horses, thoroughbred horses and even those belonging to Jethro Tull. Well sort of, ‘Heavy Horses,’ is Ian Anderson’s, given a hefty acapella make over, which touches on the second more subtle subtext that’s how we treat things, often discarding that we no longer value for something slicker but more characterless and vacuous.
Certainly, there’s little here that you could label vacuous, opening with sonorous bagpipes, frail hurdy gurdy and deep rhythms ‘ Hooden Horse,’ name checking the Kent custom,‘ ‘Miss Portly,’ comes over all music hall with ukulele and off beat percussion. ‘The Skewbald,’ canters along, bagpipes to the fore and a great acoustic guitar line that winds throughout.
‘Creeping Jane,’ is pretty straightforward, done as folk, likewise ‘Mari Lwyd,’ the Welsh cousin twice removed of the earlier, ‘Hooden Horse,’ which lopes forth on a concertina line with a bass adding heavy inference. ‘Taoist Tale,’ from the pen of Tucker Zimmerman, rocks with a bouncy electro hook, it’s a horse song with double meaning, the wild horse could equally be a wild partner. Closing ‘Dead Horse,’ is the old Albion Band number done as 50s rock’n’roll, resplendent with a doo wop chorus.
So, I’ve gone on a bit I know, but ‘Front Runner,’ is worth your investment and time. The rewards are there for the hearing, if nothing else it proves that Rakoczy is determined to set foot where few have ever trod and that pushing into new territory comes naturally to her.
Expect live gigs post Covid. Can’t wait for her second album. Just think if she were to team up with Jim Moray what wonders would await.