Words by Nathaniel Handy
Their catchy folk-pop choruses and carefree vagabond spirit recall The Levellers at their best. But there is much more to this debut from the youthful band formed around singer-songwriter and guitarist Theo Bard. Both lyrically and musically, there is a timelessness to the highlights on this album that places it among the company of the best folk music. The songs are all originals and, had the music been limited to Theo Bard’s guitar and vocals, the results may have fallen a little too comfortably into the socially conscious folk-pop mould of so many forebears. But it isn’t. The moment that Ewan Bleach’s clarinet slithers into the opener ‘Violets’, you know something different is afoot. When the drone of Louisa Jones’ accordion enters, the effect is brooding and elegant. Listening to the best tracks – ‘Violets’, ‘Late Afternoon’, ‘Married by the Sea’ – there is the sense that they could have been written decades, even centuries ago.
The lyrics are beautifully judged, taking the universal from personal experience. The music is cosmopolitan, putting English folk music in contact with blues, jazz, and Central European. This is a testament to an exciting new band. Not all of this debut is as strong, and there are some fillers like ‘Beating of my Heart’ and ‘Our Love is Strong’. But in their full bluesy, swinging folk pomp, there is real promise.