Review: ‘Man Overboard’ E.P. by The Dredgermen

The Dredgermen by Joe Collins

 The Dredgermen – Photo by Joe Collins

This week sees the release of Man Overboard, the debut EP by The Dredgermen, a folk act in the contemporary mould that lives up to its splendidly chosen name and whose members will be familiar to anyone with more than a passing interest in the music of the Medway towns. Originally comprised of Patrick Engelbert, latterly of Petts on vocals and mandolin, and Theatre Royal bassist Brendan Esmonde on guitar and vocals, the line up has recently seen the addition of former Crybaby Special bassist Josh Carson on, you guessed it, bass guitar.

The title track is a tuneful and reflective affair led by Marr-esque acoustic guitar and featuring an instantly memorable refrain and strong but tender vocal performances from both Engelbert and Esmonde. It’s is familiar, of course it is, but it is new as well. After all, the dredgerman’s work is to reclaim from the river that which is valuable and can be given a new lease of life, be that brass buttons filtered from the silt or a cannonball wrapped in the remains of the coat the buttons came from.

The second song, Rub Salt In The Wounds, quickens the tempo and and has more of an instant pop appeal, with an arrangement that punches above the combined weight of the instruments used. Of the four songs on the EP, this is the one that most reveals the roots of the bands members and helps the listener to place the Dredgermen in roughly the right area on an imagined Medway ‘rock family tree’. It’s also the sort of song that makes you want to play it again as soon as it’s finished, which is no bad thing.

Run, Run, Run is a horse drawn carriage of a song. The wheels of the carriage are very much on fire, but the horse hasn’t noticed, and it plods happily for a dirty mile or so before it’s time to run. All too soon we arrive at the EP’s final track, When You’re Around. Gentle and meandering, it lasts for less than two minutes and rounds The Dredgermen’s debut off nicely.

You can and should procure this little gem of an EP directly from Bandcamp (thedredgermen.bandcamp.com). If enough people do it, perhaps they’ll go back into Ranscombe Studios and record a whole album.

Phil Dillon

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