Self Released (label)
06 November 2019 (released)
Even on 2010’s Robert Burns inspired ‘Northern Quarter’, 2013’s interpreting-reinterpretations of ‘Speak from the Start’ (which included ‘covers’ of Morrissey, Blondie and Kanye West) and the pair’s ‘Routes to Roots’ global folk(lore) project, the paths ahead optimistically filled with more promise than the trails/tales left behind. Equally menacing and reassuring, their twin vocals console and cajole, becalm and balm.
Transnational and global in outlook, ‘Face to Face’ (the duo’s debut self-released production) is a lament and plea to stop the perpetual plunder and pillage of the planet, as power structures cling on to their grips at insurmountable costs. Are you listening, oil, fracking, arms cartels? Can YOU listen?.
Opener ‘Keep me’ is written and performed from the point of view of the Earth, where what could have been a ‘harping’-on misery-moan is instead an upbeat paean to common-sense: ‘I have so much to give you, so stop trying to defeat me if you want to keep me ’. Catchy-scratchy violins leap in and rummage and forage amongst classical-jazzy-folkage. A heady bru.
‘What’s real?’ exudes the (solid) air of compatriot John Martyn, the inherent message a demand on the senses in these times of (hyper/un/sur)reality, artificial ‘news’ and deep-fakery.
Both ‘The Plough’ and ‘In the filling station’ are blink or you’ll miss it interludes. Another wordless Highland ting(ler) ‘Oma’ shimmers and shakes.
The on-the-surface upbeat ‘Deep Dark Beast’ is a lyrical, mystical ominous warning, where ‘she will growl and crawl, she will call and fall under YOUR bed’, a nightmarish choppy fiddle-riddle.
At times reminiscent of Penguin Café Orchestra’s mannered mellow-dramas, Ludovico Einaudi’s delicacy, subtle Kate B(r)ush strokes and (in Andrew Robb’s bass) echoes of Danny Thompson, this is both music of and for all the ages and much more than a homage to lineage. All in all you have to hope that these songs don’t end up lazily attached (ergo contextually diluted) to some advertising campaign.