Ange Hardy And Lukas Drinkwater are probably the best example of a quality duo since Mr Rolls first said hello to Mr Royce and "Findings" very much their Silver Ghost. Now I've not chosen the reference at random, the thing about those early Rolls Royce was the triumph in blending engineering and aesthetic, the merging of function and form. In Hardy & Drinkwater you have two multi-instrumentalists that know how to bring a striking vitality out of music's building blocks. I could also mention that "Findings" are what jewellers use to join the creative parts of their pieces together, the hidden engineering that allows the gems to sparkle and leave you to draw the connections.
It's no secret that I've been a huge fan of Ange Hardy since I first discovered her music via her second album "Barefoot Folk", back in 2013, an album that saw her picking up female vocalist of the year. It turns out that I've been a fan of Lukas Drinkwater for a lot longer than I realised as he's contributed to so many live and recorded performances over the years, many of which have found their way into my collection, but rarely with his name appearing above the line, well that's definitely changed now and perhaps it will bring a wider recognition of his talents.
The first thing you notice about "Findings" is that it is whilst it references both of Ange's preceding albums, it is a step change, most noticeably in how the voices are used on the album, both in harmony and when they are apart. It allows the album to find its character incredibly quickly and in doing so allows the instrumentation to shape the body. Crucially it also allows the newly written songs to sit in with the traditional leaving an album with a timeless quality, it also brings a perspective to some of those traditional songs that often gets lost in the retelling.
A good example of this is "The Berkshire Tragedy", a song that has been recorded in many forms and whilst described in the title as a tragedy, is in reality a song about, attempted murder, robbery and murder, something that is brought home all the more by hearing after both "By The Tides" a contemporary song about the refugee crisis and "True Are The Mothers", a song about the different aspects of motherhood and which features guest appearances from Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Roberts, but crucially it also works the other way giving "By The Tides" a context that may ensure its longevity.
Having mentioned some of the guests musicians, it would seem wrong not to mention the others, particularly as there's a fine crop of young musicians, Archie Churchill-Moss, Ciaran Algar and Evan Carson, as well as the not so young, but equally talented Steve Pledger who also co-writes "Far Away From Land". Behind the desk duties come courtesy of Olly Winters-Owen.
The reason I mention all the musicians, is that underlying quality that sits throughout "Findings". Some of the songs are just Ange & Lukas, but other songs draw on those different components, always the right part for the job, leaving you admiring how it sounds together as a whole, verse to tune, to song to album.
Whilst not a concept album as such, there are underlying themes running through "Findings" or rather gilded threads that wrap around each other to build something stronger, not least amongst these being family and bonds, with a context that draws on the character and power of the west country, an area known for its natural beauty, but underpinned by the hard graft of miners, farmers and artisans.
Ultimately, "Findings" is an album that connects, one that connects to head, heart and spirit, but more than that it's an adventure, one that re-explores songs from the past, brings them together with songs from the now and builds them towards a bright future.
If you've got the "Findings" match for Dinah Rodd, which should be The Drains, get in touch
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