Unearthing – Top 10 Folk albums of the year in both Mojo & The Guardian

Put together one of the English folk scene’s most sophisticated musicians and one of the folk scene’s most lyrical singers, let them mature together for a decade or two, and their stunning new album Unearthing is the much anticipated result.

Patterson Dipper’s Unearthing (self-released) is another ambitious, affecting project, reshaping English classical songs into the folk idiom. Patterson’s voice has the solid, sensual heft of Nic Jones or Dick Gaughan, while Dipper’s viola d’amore has texture, grit and grace.” – Jude Rogers, The Guardian

This is perhaps the most exquisite, moving, intriguing, amazing vocal CD I have had the privilege of listening to for a very long time. – Chris Metherell, EDS Magazine

Having just posted up a Podwireless of a very fine selection of English folk artists today, I then dug into the newly arrived CDs pile and found this absolute gem of a new album by Patterson Dipper. Think Nic Jones or Tony Rose meets Methera (if you must have comparisons): superb, unmannered singing and sublime playing. Now *that’s* how to do it just right. Try this track (Rere’s Hill) for example, but any would have done.” – Ian Anderson on FB and PodWireless

Unearthing is an album that combines traditional music, poetry, 20th century composers and refined musicianship. It really is delightful.” – Dai Jeffries www.folking.com

James Patterson (Crows, Silas) and John Dipper (fiddler on The Hobbit, Poldark, and most recently playing on the soundtrack of the Channel 4 documentary Surviving Covid) have deep roots in the folk revival.  Their sound, although anchored in that tradition, is in no way restricted by it.  Their choice of material has origins in traditional song and the English classical song repertoires, that greatly influence the duo’s approach.

Independent of the source, a thoughtfulness and a deep seated musicality is brought to each arrangement. With Patterson’s smooth baritone floating gracefully over the accompaniment of guitar and Dipper’s sublime viola d’amore, the words and narrative are given the space that they truly deserve.

Dipper’s use of the 14 stringed viola d’amore is indicative of the way in which he pushes the boundaries of the tradition, respecting the beauty and depth of the heirlooms that we have inherited, while breaking convention.  His viola d’amore is tuned in a specific way,  which enables him to play harmonies and chords simply not possible on a standard instrument.

James’ voice was at the forefront of the band Crows, with Mick Ryan, Ralph Jordan and John Burge. His approach to the lyrics and his ability to phrase and judge each line, never obscuring the timeless sentiment, is legendary. 

Combined, these musicians react to each other’s performance in the most effortless, yet spontaneous and dynamic way possible. Their music truly is precision with a soul. 

The duo’s music is enhanced by the wonderful contributions of multi-instrumentalist Adrian Lever (Alma and Arhai) and the exquisite cello playing of Emily Askew (the Askew Sisters, Alma and The Emily Askew Band). 

In making this album Patterson Dipper have  brought music and song that had been explored by exponents of western art music, full circle – bringing it back to the tradition from which it was discovered over a century ago.  Patterson Dipper have skilfully managed to preserve and celebrate the music’s origins whilst creating something new, beautiful and sublime.

The Music

The idea of ‘unearthing’ is not just a matter of looking in different sources, printed and recorded, to discover material to perform, though that is how it begins. It is more about the journey we take in discovering the musical possibilities of the material in the context of our performance.

We feel the resulting work is both true to our musical roots and respectful of its source and continuing journey. Below are some samples for your delectation!

I Will Go with My Father a-Ploughing
Rere’s Hill
If it’s Ever Spring Again
The Isle of France
The Lads in their Hundreds


Friday 24th of a November – Everyman Folk Club


12 of June Patterson Dipper at Chichester Folk Club 


Buy it here on Bandcamp!

£12 + £2 P&P


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James has been singing on the English folk music scene since the early 1970s. In 1975 he met his long term musical partner, the late Ralph Jordan, with whom he worked as the duo Silas. He was part of the popular band Crows from 1978 until 1986. James and Ralph were joined in 2000 by John Dipper to form Patterson Jordan Dipper and John and James have continued their collaboration since Ralph’s departure. Until 2018 James also enjoyed a couple of years with a revived line up of Crows. Now retired, James was one of the UK’s leading film archivists.

John has worked full time on the folk scene for the past 20 years as a composer and teacher and player, performing with a variety of respected combinations including: The English Acoustic Collective with Chris Wood and Robert Harbron, the string quartet Methera, Alma, The Emily Askew Band, and Dipper Malkin. Throughout the period he has worked with James as part of PJD and as a duo.

John’s playing is widely regarded as amongst the finest on the scene and his use of the Viola d’Amore is indicative of his desire to explore and expand the musical potential of the English tradition.

He was solo fiddler on The Hobbit Soundtrack and has appeared in the TV series Poldark. His most recent TV work was playing on the soundtrack of the Channel 4 documentary Surviving Covid.

In addition to his musical accomplishments, John makes the wonderful Dipper concertinas, alongside his parents Colin and Rosalie.

Album Reviews and Testimonials

“Patterson Dipper present a rich tapestry of tunes and songs garnered from a wide range of sources and all infused with a musicality and thoughtfulness that only comes with long experience.” – London Folk Festival

“The naturally gorgeous timbre of James’ voice was enriched by his outstanding breath control and exceptionally delicate and masterful guitar accompaniments” – Everyman Folk Club

“John Dipper is one of Englands most sophisticated fiddlers. The lyrical richness of the melodies, textures and accompaniments he draws from his viola d’amore and his seemingly endless fund of strong compositions and creative expansion of mostly English traditional tunes, drawn from a deep knowledge of the 17th and 18th Century collections such as those of Playford and Walsh, as well as living tradition, are always a delight!” – fROOTS Magazine



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