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Album: Locks & Bolts
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 10

Solarfernce released their debut album, "Lips Of Clay" back in 2012, it's blending of traditional folk music with live, self-designed electronica solutions saw the duo picking up the Fatea Innovation Award for that year. Their next project was to design a live soundtrack to the 1920 classic silent movie "Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde" a project they took around the South West throughout 2014.

Solarference, Nick Janaway and Sarah Owen, have just released their second album and to the surprise of many it's a live album, the duo's capacity to pull unexpected delights from the creative fires, really knows no bounds.

"Locks & Bolts" was recorded live at the Cube Cinema in Bristol earlier in the year and features songs that are rich in electronica, others accompanied by bicycle bells and some that merely rely on vocal harmonies. I say merely just to emphasise the lack of other accompaniment, rather than to belittle the harmonies as both protagonists have voices that were born to deliver folk music.

Phenomenal debuts are difficult beasts to follow up, but Solarference have done so perfectly for "Locks & Bolts" is an album that really does continue to challenge what is, at times laughingly, the norm, but does so in a way that it brings the audience with it, rather than exploring difference for difference's sake. There are times on the album where they drop into a track that is more challenging than its predecessor, you might not be a fan of beat boxing, but it is done in such a way that it's difficult to argue that it is in anyway superfluous.

If by contrast plain song is not your thing than listening to the vocal only rendition of "Dives And Lazarus" may not be easy, but you would be hard pushed to be able to describe how it could be improved with instrumentation.

Folk is a living tradition because the songs are always open to interpretation, it's why there are different versions of the same songs that have been collected over the years. If the song collectors were still going out and about looking for the different interpretations out there of songs you thought you knew, Cecil Sharp may well have been penning an entire section on Solarference, a phenomenal follow up to a phenomenal debut.

Neil King