TWENTY-two years of musical partnership gathering numerous nominations, awards and critical acclaim along the way, While and Matthews reaffirm their place as one of the finest duos in acoustic music with the release of their tenth studio album.

Shoulder to Shoulder introduces eleven brand-new songs to the already mighty arsenal of material that positions them as go-to writers for projects such as the acclaimed BBC Radio Ballads and Ballads of Child Migration. With Their songs cover diverse topics and bridge musical genres, making them difficult to pigeonhole, but after years of drawing on many influences and experiences they have acquired a sound all of their own and are, as the opening track testifies, comfortable in the skin they are in.

As well as the upbeat radio friendly Here It Comes Again and the powerful ballad Ordinary Day (a breathtaking interpretation from While’s lead vocal), Matthews, as we have come to expect, also offers two powerful songs of political comment: Pride, a calling for solidarity in support of LGBT rights across the globe and Are We Human, an answer to the intolerance and ignorance facing refugees fleeing to Europe. While’s recent co-writing partnership with acclaimed songwriter Charlie Dore brings a new dimension to the album with three songs: Slim to Nil, about long-distance relationships; the quirky and charming Nothing Yanks My Chain (Like You Do) and Leap of Faith, a moving account of a mother and daughter reunited after 25 years.

Each track is delivered with impeccable vocals, musicianship and harmonies and produced with clarity and detail.

As usual, W&M are supported by a full cast of world-class musicians. On bass, Neil Fairclough (Queen, E2K); drums, Neil Marshall (Albion Band); new addition Johnny Heyes on electric and acoustic guitars; Danny Hart (Flats and Sharps) on fiddle and banjo. With guests: guitarist Ken Nicol, Australian double bass player Liz Frencham and additional vocals from Christine Collister and Kellie While.

The exceptional folk duo Chris While and Julie Matthews are heading to St Helen’s Church in Alveston, Gloucestershire on Friday, October 7 as part of their autumn tour.