Back in the day John Kirkpatrick was instrumental in bringing brass into the world of Folk. Many moons later Bellowhead swelled the sound to almost orchestral levels adding even more to the mix. Eliza Carthy's Wayward Band the current holder of the big band approach.
Along then comes Owen Ralph, a music degree from the University of Surrey, a multi-instrumentalist, a composer, a conductor, a singer with a distinctive voice and we take another step forward.
We add electronica, synthesisers and more as the boundaries of folk ever expand "Lost In Space" like, yet remain deeply rooted in the traditional tracks chosen.
"Chamber Folk" is Ralph's first EP, the official release is at Cecil Sharp House home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society, much is therefore expected.
Classically influenced the short self penned "This Might Be" has a cinematic feel as it segues into the traditional "The Sign Of The Bonny Blue Bell" which was Cecil Sharp collected from Somerset.
Welsh roots are examined with a jaunty tune that has your legs jiggling ("Môn") before the highlight of the album for me which is "False Young Man". A song of South Appalachian origin that you may be familiar with from the singing of Lady Maisery or Nancy Kerr. In Owen's hands it takes on a slow melancholy majestic feel and was deservedly chosen as the current single.
Jim Causley adds his considerable talent to "The Robber" and Rosie Hood, a Horizon Award Nominee in the 2016 BBC Folk Awards, offers her pure and clear vocals to "Isabel".
"Erin's Lovely Home" a trad Irish song is chosen to close the EP and it brings us back full circle to the cinematic start.
"Chamber Folk" then, well chosen material, clever arrangements and a distinctive sound.
If you want to find out more then Cecil Sharp House on Thursday 14th June is the place to be as a special full ten piece band launches the CD.
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