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James Edge and The MindstepJames Edge and The Mindstep
Album: On A Red Horse
Label: Folkstock
Tracks: 6

When the first song, Jacob, began, I had this strange otherworldly feeling. It took me back to a trip I once had across the Yorkshire dales, scrambling across the limestone pavement, remote and windswept. Something in its initial, ethereal desolation stirred a distant memory. Encouraged by this, I looked forward to listening on. Vocally it first put me in mind of Mark Hollis, lead singer of Talk Talk but then by track two I nailed it. In my weird and wonderful imagination what I was hearing was a voice not un-similar to Dan Gillespie from The Feeling. I know it sounds odd but there was just something in the particular delivery and well spoken tone of the singers voice that led me there.

Intrigued, I started reading the EP's Bandcamp notes. Song 2 on the EP and the title track, On A Red Horse informed me that the writer is trying to lay new markers in the folk sand so to speak. "I want to change the way people think about acoustic music and start redefining what it can be". He has set himself the musical task of taking, what is described in their notes as, "todays lukewarm folk pop and making it stand apart from anything else." Big job and a worthy challenge.

A lot of what I heard in the string arrangements on the track On A Red Horse, was very reminiscent of James Taylor's debut album in 1968, especially his track Sunshine, Sunshine. There is no doubt that the arrangements and instrumentation is incredibly well made, complicated, intricate and beautiful. It's not "lukewarm folk pop" so yes it does "stand apart" and you have to say that a great deal of love, work and musical skill have gone in to making it. I'm just not so sure it "redefines" the genre but maybe it updates it. Of course you could argue that new generations of listening public have closed their ears over the years to what went before which means that new songs can shine all the brighter in the modern musical sky.

The overall sound was one of warmth and extremely well executed and I liked the upfront clean production. I found ghosts of John Martyn in a couple of tunes especially the bass in final track Becoming and the lyrics work as textures to the full sound, complimenting the experience.

This is delicate and passionate, well crafted folk/pop. It shows how great writers and performers take up the challenge of creating musical innovation by spinning the past into future's weave and clothing us all anew in their own timeless songs.

James Morris