May The Hunter Retreat
Roseberry Records RBR005
This is Folk Music Jim; But Not as We Know It.
I first encountered Skylark Song quite by accident a couple of years ago when I turned up early to see a Blues band performing on Record Shop Day. As the previous Punk Rockers noisily packed their gear away a very shy and young looking coupled nervously replaced them to entertain a crowd of Hipsters, children, inquisitive shoppers and assorted musos. Over the next thirty minutes you could have heard a pin drop as Emma and Alex McRae armed only with a guitar, violin and two amazing voices left us utterly enthralled.
Subsequently their debut album RELENT https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/cd-reviews-2014/skylark-song-relent/ was in exactly the same vein as that 30 minute concert.
Jump forward to 2015 and Skylark Song are releasing their second album of self-penned songs.
Knowing how much I’d enjoyed their first album it was with a deep breath that I pressed ‘on’ and heard the first whispers of Peaceful Alone. In fairness it has taken me several repeated listening to get over the sharpness in their voices and the traditional melody; but that investment has been well worth it as the song as evolved like a beautiful flower in Springtime.
Several other songs were much more ‘instant’ as they somehow manage to blend the styles of traditional Folkies Nick Drake, John Martyn and Jacqui McShane with the Americana Lo-Fi of Cowboy Junkies and Fleet Foxes; to create their very own distinctive sound.
Emma predominantly takes lead on the vocals with Mint and Green plus If I Close My Eyes both being simply outstanding; but Alex steps forward a couple of times and proves quite as deft a singer as he is guitarist on Hunter.
But; and I don’t say this lightly, their duets are as good if not better than any others I’ve heard in the English Folk world. Take a listen to Only a Thought and tell me I’m wrong; I dare you.
May the Hunter Retreat is Folk Music at it’s simplest – voices, guitar and violin with a tiny bit of mandolin, Cello, Double Bass and percussion added when; and only when deemed necessary.
Alongside the Magnificent McRae’s praise must also go out to producer Adam Sinclair who has done a job worthy of the biggest studios in London Town and Danielle Callaghan who was responsible for the beautiful artwork.
Apparently hailing from the windswept hills of Newcastle upon Tyne Skylark Song have created something of a Folk meets Lo-Fi Masterpiece.
Released November 14th 2015