Some other reviewer beat me to the post back in September, before the release of this extraordinary album - hence this delayed arrival on the site of my considered thoughts.
It's the second album to arise out of musical collaboration between Marry Waterson and Big Eyes Family Players' guitarist David A. Jaycock, and the impetus for its creation came from the overwhelming response to their fascinating and stimulating collection Two Wolves which came out almost exactly two years ago. Once again they've secured the services of a small number of guest musicians, this time Kathryn Williams, Romeo Stodart, Emma Smith, John Parrish and producer Adrian Utley, whose aural insights impart the album with a compellingly haunting aura. This together with the often elliptical lyrics gives a strong, if sometimes partly subliminal, feeling of disorientation and unexplainable loss that runs as a common thread throughout the record. Whether deriving their inspiration from common experience or local-historical associations, Aesop's Fables or dreamlike logic, there's a primal creative force at work in these stark, darkly weird new songs. The sombre local legend that inspired the disc's title song is contrasted with the somewhat surreal violence and abuse implied on Gunshot Lips. A beauteous simplicity of expression characterises the gently keening harmonies of New Love Song (the album's lone David A. Jaycock composition) and adjacent track Three Of Them, the shifting modality of the melody line also carrying on over into On The Second Tide which follows. Closing tracks Forgive Me and Small Ways And Slowly are arguably the most conventionally voiced songs here, though this doesn't make them any the less mesmerising.
If nothing else, this album must win the year's prize for the most arresting opening track (only Lay Fallow, on the latest Daphne's Flight album, runs it close). The Vain Jackdaw begins with an eerie half-minute prelude played on a bowed guitar, before totally yielding the airspace to Marry's voice, a thing of curious deceptive beauty and quiet power that can't help being likened to that of her late mother Lal. Thereafter we're taken on a magical journey through disturbing and often spare landscapes and soundscapes, as hinted and detailed above. For most of the time, there are only one or two instrumental lines to follow, enabling maximum concentration on Marry's entirely natural, no-frills singing and the stripped-back yet intensely articulate potency of her lyrics.
This album, like its predecessor, provides a unique and unforgettable experience, one that not quite incidentally confirms what we already know - that of course death has quicker wings than love…
|Rob Corcoran & The Necessary Evils: Inverse Alchemy||Fish Out Of Water: Hares On A Mountain|
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