The Song-Crowned King

FE 009CD FE 009CD

2015 release. "This beautifully spare new release from the American-British duo (based in England) has been a long time promised, but even with only six tracks, it backs more powerful punches that albums three times the length. It's a reminder of how powerful folk music can be, and helps cement the bonds between England and that place across the Atlantic. Cath especially, does plenty of work in the shape note tradition, and the mix of music richness and austerity in that is evident here; they use just a little to say a lot. The opener, 'Bonnie George Campbell,' for instance, is voice, guitar and some Dobro, immediately followed by a tune on unaccompanied fiddle. There's a hymnal quality to it all (one of the pieces is a hymn put to a new tune), but also a very dark, brooding intensity that brings its own beauty. There are parallels between this duo and Cordelia's Dad, hardly surprising as Cath was (is?) a member of that band, and Phil played with them on UK tours. But they've taken that root in a different direction. Just as stripped-down, with a power that hits to the core. And everything comes across as so raw, so offhand, that it hides the fact that everything is superbly prepared and thought-out (the subtle, tiny atmospherics on 'Old Lady' offer a perfect example). The irony is that while this wouldn't sound out of place somewhere in the 19th century, it bristles with the kind of channeled intensity that's absolutely punk, in the best sense. Less is definitely more here." --Chris Nickson