Tinderbox – All Grown Up “…must be a strong candidate for folk album of the year.” *****
John Roffey, Maverick Magazine – March 2017
A fifth studio offering and Tinderbox have raised the bar even higher.
Acoustic folk trio Tinderbox is Monique Houraghan (vocals), Dan Tucker (guitar) and Bob Burke (guitar, piano). Since their debut in 2007, they’ve come on leaps and bounds and ALL GROWN UP must be a strong candidate for folk album of the year. As we’ve come to expect, their song-writing is innovative and the melodies are simply lovely.
Monique has a voice to die for and as ever, Dan Tucker’s acoustic finger picking guitar work complements the vocals perfectly. Latest recruit Bob Burke has added an extra dimension as well as taking over production responsibilities. Unlike the folkies’ regular diet of heartbreak and broken relationships, Tinderbox explore the trials of growing up and the joys of bringing up a young family. On this album, they experiment with blending many of the tracks together to great effect.
Three numbers, Consequence, Down the Track and Leave Your Light On were given an initial airing on their 2014 live offering LIVE AT THE COTTAGE but are significantly enhanced with the addition of a full backing band. For the lyric insert, Tinderbox have delved into their albums of family photographs many of which are reflected in the material on the album; a novel touch. The beautiful final track, Little Bird has the bonus of a prolonged instrumental finale which only goes to emphasise Dan Tucker and Bob Burke’s extraordinary guitar talents. I can’t keep this one out of the CD tray.
‘All Grown Up’ from Tinderbox “… afive-star album, no question.” *****
Tim Carroll, FolkWords – March, 2017
Growing old isn’t optional it’s a fact of life, growing up is a decision … nothing more. Eventually, a time comes when the former makes its presence felt, like it or not. Then again, that still leaves time to make a choice about the latter … some make it wisely, others live with regret, for a few find the decision is made for them. ‘All Grown Up’, the latest album from Tinderbox explores both growing old and growing up, the impact of both and how they touch both young and old … and the result is perfect, simply perfect. This is a five-star album, no question.
The foundations that underpin Tinderbox encompass all the constituents needed to create something exceptional … Monique Houraghan’s startling, clear and devastatingly emotive voice, the musical interplay between guitarist and songwriter Dan Tucker and multi-instrumentalist Bob Burke, and their intuitive interaction as a trio. This time around they’ve widened and expanded the Tinderbox sound by adding extra instruments to the line-up … lead guitar breaks, violin and whistle accents … adding spellbinding depth to the whole.
Listening to this album is an unreserved pleasure … the contemplative memories of ‘Easy and Carefree’, time-worn guidance everyone recognises in ‘Life Is For The Living’, the importance of the ordinary sealed within ‘Down The Track’ and with its melody to die for, the singularly beautiful ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’. There’s the purity of unconditional love in ‘Leave Your Light On’, the potent brilliance of ‘All Grown Up’ revealing the deep understanding of what it means to be a parent and the vivid child-imagination of ‘Sparkledust’.Even the insert, with its collection of faces displaying youthful innocence, expectation and promise contributes to the undeniable magnetism of ‘All Grown Up’.
Tinderbox are Monique Houraghan (vocals) Dan Tucker (guitar) and Bob Burke (guitar, piano) and playing with them on ‘All Grown Up’ are Dave Eales (drums) Darren Shaw (percussion) Lucy Kavanagh (bass) Frank Boyle (lead guitar) Catherine Burke (whistles) Annie Bayliss (violin, viola) with backing vocals provided by Monique, Bob, Annie and Gareth Lee.
“…an album that seems to find a way to the play button with ease…”
Neil King, FATEA Magazine – March 2017
When your Twitter id is @tinderboxduo and your website introduces you as an award winning acoustic trio, there might just be a bit of a perception problem, but perception problems can be disorientating in a good way, something that stops you from just having the same take on what’s been placed in front of you.
It’s been five years since the last studio album, “Counting Time” was released. In the intervening years, children have been born, there was time to record a live album, “Live At The Cottage” and Bob Burke has been added to the line-up, though the reality is that his has been a part of Tinderbox alongside the lilting and distinctive vocals of Monique Houraghan and picking and strumming of guitarist Dan Tucker, for a while now.
The album takes a journey along the acoustic spectrum, never quite settling on one genre which makes the album difficult to pin down and crucially ensures that each song gets exactly what it needs to bring out the best of instrumentation and narrative. Similarly from my perspective the album title, “All Grown Up”, really encapsulates the sense of growing up from several different angles, both personal and how we view the generations that are coming up behind us and to a lesser extent those that are travelling before.
The crucial thing is that it’s “All Grown Up” and not growing old. Growing up still gives you a scope to be young and vibrant, still able to surprise, growing old is the road to fossilization and stagnation. This is definitely an album that retains both life and the ability to surprise, whilst the narrative is more mature, more reflective of the different cards that you play as a family.
“All Grown Up” is a well-rounded album, reflective in both narrative and instrumental phases, though not without changes in pace and subject. It’s an album that seems to find a way to the play button with ease and you can’t say fairer than that.
“If you listen to this album with your eyes closed, you will daydream you are lying in a meadow.”
ShireFolk – June 2017
This is the sixth album from the award-winning Tinderbox.
There are some beautifully intelligent lyrics on this album, with guitar-picking melodies accompanied by whistles and strings. The vocals of Monique Houraghan are light and lilting. If you’ve heard the semi-retired Eden’s Bridge, Tinderbox will seem like a blast from the past, albeit with a country and western twist.
For me, the stand-out is the first track, ‘Consequence’, which starts the album off with a song of regret and guilt. The music on this track is also the liveliest on the album. For the rest of the album, the songs seem to be segments of one long song both lyrically and musically. On one hand, this could be a drawback, but on the other hand, we are taken to another place emotionally with luminous stories of family life.
This album is indeed a tribute to childhood, growing up and coming full circle to family life. If you listen to this album with your eyes closed, you will daydream you are lying in a meadow. A perfect album for chill time.
The ‘All Grown Up’ tour – Tinderbox “… the involving experience of their company never disappoints”
Tim Carroll, FolkWords – April 07, 2017
Empathy is an embracing word … it encompasses understanding, responsiveness, sympathy and compassion … all were evidenced in profusion on Stage 2 at The Stables in Milton Keynes. The reason was an intimate set from Tinderbox, and the involving experience of their company never disappoints.
The empathy between these artists and their audience is palpable, as is the sympathetic communication between them, which they are more than willing to share with their audience. The musical interaction between Dan Tucker and Bobby Burke weaves an enchantment as guitars dance and duel, while Monique Houraghan’s sparklingly pure voice seduces instantly.
The occasion was a stop on their tour to launch the new album … ‘All Grown Up’ (reviewed earlier by FolkWords) which is Tinderbox at their very best. And witnessing them live demonstrates one reason why ‘All Grown Up’ is so good … the obvious mutual sensitivity that exists when three people join together to create Tinderbox, and that my friends is empathy. They treated the audience to some old (really old as it happens) favourites, some well known songs, before moving into the delights of ‘All Grown Up’. Songs from the album included their look back at the ‘once was’ of life with ‘Easy and Carefree’, the reflected love of ‘Life Is For The Living’, looking forward with ‘Down The Track’, the fragile parent-experience of ‘All Grown Up’ and the magical moments that come through the vivid child-imagination of ‘Sparkledust’ … mine were not the only tear-filled eyes.
Tinderbox at The Stables were Monique Houraghan (vocals) Dan Tucker (guitar) and Bob Burke (guitar, bass). Get a chance to see Tinderbox live … take it. Tour details and gig information here: tinderboxacoustic.com/gigs
Tinderbox – Live at The Shelley Theatre “…testament to Tinderbox’s popularity…a superb concert.”
John Roffey, Maverick Magazine – March 2017
Out of the blue, the latest Tinderbox album ALL GROWN UP dropped through the letterbox for review; a masterpiece if ever there was one; so the launch of the album at the Shelley Theatre just up the road in Boscombe was an opportunity too good to miss. Such is the popularity of the group in this neck of the woods; a sell-out was a foregone conclusion.
But first, a six strong set from Cornwall’s highly talented singer/song writer duo Gareth Lee and Annie Baylis. By the third number, Annie had already excelled on fiddle, keyboards and accordion! Highlight for me was Biggest Enemies and they did a pretty good job on Speed of the Sound of Loneliness although inevitably, I found my mind wandering to the sounds of John Prine and Nancy Griffiths.
Enter Tinderbox, Monique Houraghan (lead vocals), Dan Tucker (acoustic guitar) and Bob Burke (guitar, bass, piano) with Frank Boyle guesting on electric guitar to open with one of their concert staples River to the Sea, a sad tale of lost love. Then it was down to the real business of the evening with Tinderbox giving us all but one of the 12 excellent songs on ALL GROWN UP interspersed with their political commentary, The State of Play and what has become something of a ‘signature’, Travelling. ALL GROWN UP is a conceptual album focussing on the couple’s young children growing up and the trials and tribulations of parenthood. Such albums have a tendency for excess ‘mushiness’ but not this one.
Monique’s highly innovating song writing and gorgeous vocals, Dan Tucker’s expert finger picking guitar work and Bob Burke’s sympathetic production ensure that this should be a strong candidate for folk album of the year. With Frank Boyle’s electric guitar as well as Gareth and Annie joining in for much of the set, Tinderbox was able to replicate exactly the quality fare on the album.
With most numbers on the album intertwined it would be almost inappropriate to pick out highlights and anyway, each and every one was a highlight! The title track has Monique reflecting on daughter Orla’s first day at school, her voice oozing with the emotions that motherhood brings as she watches her little girl disappear through the gates with the
realisation that she is starting on the long journey to adulthood. Sparkledust is a lovely story of a fairy visiting the bedroom and Don’t Wake Me Up finds Monique in the midst of a dream. My favourite was Leave Your Light On; wonderful powerful vocals. Just one instrumental; Caressing Nowhere which Dan wrote when 19 years of age and included as a bonus track on the album.
Vigorous activity on the merchandise counter was testament to Tinderbox’s popularity and a superb concert. If this group is still under the radar, check them out, you will not be disappointed.
Tinderbox – Live at Bournemouth Folk Club
“A fantastic end to a brilliant night of music from one of Dorset’s best-loved bands”
Rock Generation Magazine 2015
Tinderbox are made up of Monique Houraghan (vocals), Dan Tucker (Guitar) and Bob Burke (Guitar). They are a band that I have heard a lot about but never actually seen. The first thing you notice is Monique’s vocals; they are so pure, clear and sincerely delivered. The acoustics of this room make it an ideal location to listen for music like this. As with most gigs at the Bournemouth Folk Club a silence descends on the room when the artist plays, a respect that is not given at many other venues. I think the people that frequent these shows are genuine music lovers and have come to listen not to chat.
Tinderbox delve deep into their back catalogue to bring some delightful tunes that are clearly enjoyed by the audience. Early highlights include “Gotta Get out of This City” and a beautiful emotive new song called “Grown Up” all about Monique’s daughter Ola’s first day at school. In true folk fashion each song gets a story-like introduction to give some background. The vocal harmonies and light-fingered guitar work of the trio cannot be faulted, a true joy to listen to. Tinderbox invite Fearne back to the stage for the final three numbers which included the addictive “Travelling”, a new Fearne song called “Journey of The Man” and a playful cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”. A fantastic end to a brilliant night of music from one of Dorset’s best loved bands.
Tinderbox – Live! At the Cottage “Close your eyes and be carried away…”
Rebecca Vermae Clark – Music Unbuttoned Magazine 2014
Live! At the Cottage is the fifth album release from the band Tinderbox. This is the bands first live recorded album and as with every live album, it is unique to the band. Live albums are normally difficult to get right as the live environment chosen to record in is not always forgiving or complementary to the music. However Tinderbox managed to produce a pleasant live album which is recorded so well you feel the warmth and closeness of the performance. You feel part of that audience, who are in the moment being treated to a nice beer and an enjoyable evening of entertainment.
The starting track ‘Waiting for Summer’ gives a welcoming introduction to the album and is a perfect example of the quality of music you will encounter throughout the entire album. Monique shows off her exquisite smooth vocals, with every lyric, making her beautifully singing sound easy. Monique reminds me of a mixture of the singers Cara Dillon and Juliane Regan, and no, that is not because of the Irish twang. The pictures placed in your head by the lyrics makes you feel that they sing well told stories. The guitar playing is musical enough to enjoy as a casual listener and technical enough to keep you interested. The recording captures the sounds of the instruments amazingly well and portrays the purposely created strong melodic platform, of which, allows the vocal line to balance on top.
You learn a lot about Tinderbox from this live album. The band explains background stories in between tracks. This reveals the bands closeness with each other, their fans and most important their music. Tinderbox are definitely a band that enjoy creating and performing music. The song ‘Homeward Bound’ (not a cover – as explained on the album) shows how the band soak up all their experiences on the road and how it affects them and inspires their music.
This is a well recorded live album. I would serve this album with a warm fire, huge comfy chair and a glass of Scotch Whiskey. Close your eyes and be carried away to the intermate gig at the Cottage.
Tinderbox – Live! At the Cottage “…a distinct warmth that helps capture the personality of the band”
Neil King – FATEA Ma gazine 2014
I’ve been fortunate enough to see Tinderbox perform live many times over the years. Dan and Monique are Bournemouth/Poole based and for many years regular performers on the local scene. It gave me the privilege of watching the band work up new material for their studio albums and together with Bob Burke, effectively the third member of the duo, continue to work and experiment with the songs after release.
So far the band have record four studio albums, stretching back to “The Fire Inside” in 2007, with “Counting Time” being the most recent in 2012. With Dan and Monique now being parents, the number of gigs reduced and when they did play it tended to coincide with me being away, bad luck and poor planning.
Having “Live At The Cottage” drop through the letterbox has proved to be such a blessing on a number of accounts, first and foremost because it gives a great opportunity to reconnect with the band’s earlier material, which brought a whole host of good memories flooding back, but also because it’s a good pointer to where they are going.
By far the majority of the tracks on the album refer back to previous releases, but all of the songs feel like they have been lifted and brought into the more Americana direction the band have been taking and with the album being live, having a more organic feel.
The whole point of a live album is to make you feel like you were there, to bring you into the experience and that is definitely the case hear with banter linking the songs on the album, it has a distinct warmth that helps capture the personality of the band.
More importantly, and, for me a real treat as it does have that feeling of being on the brink of something new that the old gigs had, there are a trio of new songs on the album, which I’m told have already been earmarked for the bands next studio album, which gives “Live A Dove Cottage” is an album that is very much part of the journey.
Monique has one of those voices that you could listen to for ages and because of the way Tinderbox write songs, it has so much good narrative to work with. These are songs with point and purpose delivered in a style that pulls on folk traditions that have ping ponged back and forwards across the Atlantic.
“Live At The Cottage” lays down the marker that Tinderbox are back, that there is a decent canon of work for you to explore if this is your first encounter with them and if it is, it’s a good one and that the creative spark is definitely still there with more material to come.
Tinderbox – Counting Time “…a very personal album, one you feel glad Tinderbox chose to share”
Neil King – FATEA Magazine 2012
There’s a line on “Homeward Bound”, the opening track on “Counting Time”, the new album from Dorset duo Tinderbox: “It’s funny that you find sometimes a feeling that you’ve known someone forever, then it dawns on you that you might never see their face a second time.” It’s a line and a song that really gives the album a context. The song with plays with the contradictions of a yearning for both travel and the end of a journey, a sense of belonging.
It’s a theme that gets repeated through the album, albeit through many contexts, for example the next song, “Lovely To Me” covers the subject of a skin deep beauty and the rich beauty that comes from within, the one that doesn’t see the aesthetic, but which sees the underlying depths, the reality.
There’s another sense that sweeps across the album, togetherness, you can almost feel Monique, vocals, delivering parts of the album staring into Dan’s, guitar, eyes as she’s delivering a number of songs. If that sounds a little twee, it’s not, far from it, it’s about shared experience and how seeing that through good times and bad, builds that real sense of being part of a greater whole.
This is well written album, largely delivered with an Americana feel that provides a counter point to the Irish lilt of Monique’s vocal style, almost like the sounds of Erin reaching across the sea searching for a corresponding chord to strike and in doing so being neither one nor the other, but a genuine sum of two parts.
There were times when I felt that the songs on “Counting Time” came too close together. I found myself with the previous song lingering on in my mind as the next one came in. Obviously there’s nothing the artists can do about that, it’s totally impractical to leave gaps. I noticed it particularly when the sultry sax that enhance “Valentino” is still washing over you as the aural delight of “Amelia’s Dancing” comes in, with its change of mood.
This feels like a very personal album, one you feel glad Tinderbox chose to share. The album sleeve gives the impression of a couple relaxing at home. It’s not too much of a leap to imagine them just playing and singing for the unadulterated pleasure of it, it’s just they’ve left the door slightly ajar for us to listen to them as we sit in the kitchen, drinking coffee and hoping we don’t disturb them.
Tinderbox – Counting Time
“…the full sound they create on their own is well represented by the presence-filled recording”
David Kidman – Living Tradition Magazine 2012
Acoustic duo Tinderbox comprises Dublin-born singer Monique Houraghan and guitarist Dan Tucker. They’ve been playing their own accomplished original material for over 15 years, and Counting Time is their fourth album. Even more surprising, then, that this is my first encounter with their music. On this evidence, theirs is a distinctive sound, with Monique’s strong, forthright yet honeyed voice ably framed and supported by Dan’s expert, confident and delicately judged fingerstyle playing. The songs inhabit the crossover territory between hook-laden acoustic pop, Americana and contemporary country-folk, and vary sufficiently in style to maintain interest, but although undoubtedly memorable enough on initial acquaintance and very likely to make a favourable impact at gigs, several of them somehow fail to provide a lasting impression beyond that, for reasons I can’t quite fathom since they’re hard to fault.
Monique has an attractive, full-toned singing voice, but she shares with quite a number of other singers on what might be described as the looser acoustic scene the tendency to straddle the thin line between assurance and mannerism, with (I get the feeling) little room for further expressive flexibility on a song once phrasing and response have been settled.
Dan’s finely tuned playing can never disappoint, and his empathic approach has obviously been honed over the years to provide this level of support for Monique personally; these qualities are best experienced on songs like Amelia’s Dancing, Days Of Innocence and Drowning Me. Just occasionally, Tinderbox bring in a couple of extra musicians to flesh out the texture on lap steel, piano and bass, but generally the duo sound is all that’s required to bring their songs to life and the full sound they create on their own is well represented by the presence-filled recording.
Tinderbox – The State of Play “Tinderbox’s approach creates music of beauty…”
John Davy – FlyingShoes Review Magazine 2010
Tinderbox are Monique Houraghan and Dan Tucker; based in Bournemouth, they write songs together that combine Monique’s high, clear and sweet singing with Dan’s quite exquisite finger-picked acoustic guitar. They’ve gathered a fair crowd of musical friends to gently flesh out the sound of ‘State of Play’ but there is no doubting the starring roles here as Monique’s voice flutters like a bird above the beautiful flowing melodies picked out on the guitar.
Nine songs and one instrumental make up ‘State of Play’ and the subject matter ranges from the intensely personal and domestic (‘For You Dear Emily’ celebrates the purifying joy of going home to your young child at the end of the working day) to an attempt at socio/political commentary in the title song which I have to say doesn’t succeed in delving very deep. The two strands meet in ‘River To The Sea’ when a soldier’s wife learns he won’t ever return home again.
These personal songs are honest and earnest, striving to express emotional truths and to avoid easy cliches. In listening to them, though, it would be easy to be distracted by the pure beauty of Monique’s voice and the gentle elegance of Dan’s playing. The album centres on their two finest moments here.
The instrumental, ‘The Journey’ caught my ear on one of these recent October days; I was in the car quite gobsmacked by the autumnal beauty I saw all around me as if the whole world was in harmony for once, and this tune fitted the mood just perfectly – gentle, lyrical and happy. ‘River To The Sea’ follows on from ‘The Journey’; the drama of the lyric (as mentioned above) is bolstered by some strong vibrato in Monique’s voice and a bit of a production number going on during the chorus as the drum comes in ominously and the echo chamber makes for an uncharacteristically big sound.
I don’t normally go for that sort of thing but in the context of this album it sounds really good and, in part, I think that’s because overall there could be more use of background vocals or harmonies to give a contrast to Monique’s high clarity. Oftentimes things sound, or look, all the better in the context of some contrast, and, for me, that’s the case here.
Tinderbox’s approach creates music of beauty, something delicate and gentle to offset this frantic world. I find there’s a few albums in my collection that I put on to soothe me at the end of a frazzled day, and it could be that ‘State of Play’ becomes one of those tonics.