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M.G. BoulterM.G. Boulter
Album: With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie
Label: Harbour Songs
Tracks: 12

Back in the day before the internet and record previews, it was such a useful barometer when musicians used their album covers as a way of showing off their music before you hear it. Isn't it great when you buy an album because the artwork is captivating and then it turns out the music is great too? People need to do that more these days, and M.G. (Matthew) Boulter has tapped straight into this. With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie is a dreamscape of an album, implied by it's cover art which flows together as one continuous piece. Once you dive into this one it's hard to get back out - kind of like a swimming pool without a ladder!

Prior to receiving this CD I'd never heard of M.G. Boulter and I can say with total honesty that now I feel throughly ridiculous. Boulter is a sought after session musician as well as leading folk roots band, 'The Lucky Stripes'. Despite this folky shade to his style, With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie boasts an eclectic mix of supporting musicians from different genres. Featured here are the likes of Ben Nicholls (The Full English, Seth Lakeman), Toby Kearney (These New Puritans) and award-winning producer Andy Bell (of Bellowhead, Seasick Steve and BBC Folk Album of the Year 2014 fame).

Illustrative artwork and a fusion of performers set the scene for a promising follow up to Boulter's 2013 debut. So now I know who he is and where he comes from - that's the Thames Coast by the way. We just need to get down to the sounds emanating from what purports to be a totally thoughtful experience.With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie is indeed a collection of dreamy melodies. I almost forgot that I was listening to an album I'd never heard before, as it is soothing and crafted with such a gentle touch.

Under normal circumstances I would pick some standout tracks for a review, but I get the feeling With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie is intended to be digested as an entire piece. If my interpretation is wrong and you're reading this Matthew then I can only apologise, but hey music is art! Boulter's folk roots permeates this release throughout, accentuated by the lulling acoustic guitar in 'In Sight of The Cellar'. Low and haunting Acetone organ sets the tragic tone of my personal favourite - 'Carmel Oakes', combined with Boulter's ability to craft wispy yet honest stories in his lyrics.

Boulter has a recognisable voice that harks back to Fleet Foxes a little - it's got that "indie" ring to it, except it's a British one. Yes I mentioned that this album needs to be appreciated as a whole, but when you zoom in and concentrate on different elements in each tune, beguiling images float around with each note played. With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie contains some truly delicate playing that builds up the layers of dreamy tone, which can be found here in abundance.

M.G. Boulter has created something fresh yet familiar in With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie. It is soft and beautifully thought out, yet it can creep to a crescendo without you even being aware. I'm a huge fan of folk, roots and Americana music so it was a real delight to hear instruments like the lap/pedal steel making an appearance, as well as some lesser heard stags such as the bass clarinet and the viola. Some listeners may be scared off by the fact that this album tears away from normal genre conventions, but for those willing to taste something new (with their ears), they'll find much joy in With Wolves The Lamb Will Lie.

Lloyd Brown

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