For those of you who are not familiar with them, The August List are Kerraleigh and Martin Child, an Oxford based duo specialising in UK Americana. The Ramshackle Tabernacle is their second album and sees them heading down slightly different path to their debut, 2014's O Hinterland, with a full band adding a new dimension to some of the tracks.
Right from the start one thing that stands out about this album is the dark subject matter & as the album progresses Martin and Kerraleigh introduce us to a collection of characters both real and fictional whose stories form the basis for the songs, for instance Old Rip is an updated version of the Rip Van Winkle tale which uses this old hermit's story to explore the scare mongering and manipulation of events by the news media. Incidentally, the Hermit motif is used again to great effect later in the album when we are introduced to songwriter Connie Converse and the story of her burn out and breakdown.
Other songs on Ramshackle Tabernacle deal with subjects of a much more personal nature, such as Half Light, I Am The Teeth or Wilderness, which talks about finding love in the unlikeliest of places.
One comparison I kept making whilst listening to this album was it's similarity in style and subject matter to The Handsome Family and this was particularly evident in The Petrified Forest, a tale of lost love that could easily been written by Brett & Rennie Sparks. Having said that, The August List manage to maintain a sound that is recognisably their own
Ramshackle Tabernacle is a collection of intelligent, well crafted songs which works well as background music but to truly appreciate it you have to sit down and give this album your undivided attention, it also bears repeated plays with the songs revealing new layers with each listen. It is also worth keeping the cover handy, each of the cartoons on it relates to one of the songs on the album, just try & work out which is which. The August List's latest album that may not be to everyone's tastes, it certainly divided opinion in the Chamberlain household, but I, for one, loved it. If you are a fan of The Handsome Family or excellent but slightly dark storytelling then Ramshackle Tabernacle an album that will sit well in your collection.
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