on 30 August 2009
Although this band is very hard to categorize, this really shouldn't put you off what is an excellent CD. Their music has been described as "chamber folk", which might be one good way of putting it - there are certainly strings (viola, violin and cello) in evidence along side the more usual guitars, piano, etc. But for me this is less striking than the choral feel to the singing on many tracks, with lines repeated and interwoven. There is some similarity with Laura Veirs here and also with Laura Gibson's Beasts of Seasons - which may be the result of the Adam Selzer / Portland, OR link - so we're not talking about the fay/pretty end of "nu-folk" but something a bit darker, richer, more slow-burning and autumnal.
If you're the kind of person who worries about lyrics some of these are, to say the least, a bit strange - on Carl Sagan someone's riding backwards down the street, on A Field Report the singer is telling God that he's wasted his time, while in Song in 3/4 a woman moves ten tons of bricks from one side of her room/life to the other. This could suggest a rather gloomy feel, but there's more than that here. There's that odd sense you get with very old folk songs of a great tune carrying lyrics that have a kind of logic to them that you can't quite catch and, that, if you could, actually deal with normal stuff like relationships and fear of illness. That sense, along with some fine singing and playing, got right under my skin after a few plays. The stronger tracks for me are Field Report, Witchy, Stripe II, and the haunting final track All Your Friends Are Smiling. Well worth a listen and a CD that should really grow on you.