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Apple Of My Eye Apple Of My Eye
Album: The Beast Below
Label: Pear O'Legs
Tracks: 12

One of the great things about reviewing new releases is that you get to discover exciting new bands. Now London based outfit Apple Of My Eye have just released their third album so I'm a bit behind the times but they are definitely worth a listen.

The title track, The Beast Below is a fantastic song. The opening sounds like it's going to be a gentle song, with violin harmonics and a fingerpicked guitar part but it lulls you into a false sense of security. This beast is the Kraken of legends and the arrangement grows and swells as the crew fight with the catch into a driving instrumental with some excellent turns on fiddle and harmonica joined by stunning vocal harmonies. The song writing is incredibly vivid, conjuring up the images of the crew's battle.

Balloon showcases the vocal prowess of the band with a wonderful a cappella opening. Again, the development of the song through the instrumental work demonstrates what a strong group of musicians this band is, every voice and instrument adding to the sound and creating a cohesive unit. Cloth, Needle and Thread is a much more sombre song, written about the Oaks Pit Mining disaster which killed 381 miners in 1866. There is a feeling of the darkness and murk of the mine inherent in the song writing along with the sorrow of the loss of so many lives. This is followed by the quirkier Australia, deceptively bouncy for a song about transportation but then most cheerful folk songs are about death and misery.

Polar Bear is a great cross between a nonsense song and a comment on global warming. The articulation needed to get through the complicated lyrics is impressive in itself. The intricacy of the song's constantly changing time signatures and tempi are completely unified, all coordinated as a single unit, again impressive stuff. The next track, Hackney Brook is sort of a lament to London's lost waterways, subsumed by the London sewer system. The album closes on a gentler note with The Escape Artist.

Along with the exceptional title track, Brother James is another stand out track. With a strong fiddle introduction, the song tracks a family supported by the elder son's less than honest work in which his younger brother eventually joins him. Like The Beast Below, this song is just great storytelling, with a driving rhythm and classy instrumental breaks. If you're near Wokingham in February, you can catch Apple Of My Eye at Wokingham Music Club. Fortunately their twitter says they are planning a summer tour so there will be plenty of opportunities to catch this very exciting band live in 2017.

Nicky Grant