Old Kind of Magic
Transatlantic Cross Generational Americana Influenced Timeless and Beautiful Folk Songs.
‘Old Kind Of Magic’ is the fifth long-player from Native Harrow AKA Stephen Harms and Devin Tuel yet were pretty unknown to me until Summer 2022 when they seemed to play every Festival on the circuit, leaving friends and musicians I admire totally dumbfounded and unconditionally ‘in love’ with their music.
At this stage I must apologise; as while I too have enjoyed this album since I first heard it; I mis-filed it on my spreadsheet and I’m now posting a month after release.
There’s so much to like here; straight from opening track the winsome and windswept Song For Joan, which starts with the sound of the seashore and ends with Devin’s captivating pearlescent voice fading, somewhat tearfully off into the mid-distance.
For what is meant to be fairly ‘simple music’ i.e American Folk that straddles the Americana spectrum; there’s a whole lot going on behind Devin Tuel’s mesmerising vocals; not least the songs and stories themselves.
Most songs work on many levels; but Heart of Love and Long Long Road both signal very mature songwriters who know exactly how they want to write; and as a self-produced album ….. know exactly how they want to sound.
I’m pleased to say that there aren’t two songs even vaguely alike here; with Stephen Harms even experimenting with new ‘sounds’; here and there; and succeeding where others failed; most notably on the 60’s flavoured As It Goes, with sweeping and swooping Hammond organ ala Brian Auger and Julie Driscoll at their combined finest …. yet the song and Devin’s (in this case) smokily exotic vocals fit alongside everything else perfectly well.
This is immediatly followed by Magic Eye; again tinged with a 60’s ‘vibe’ …. but this time I was reminded of some of Marianne Faithful’s more recent releases which also mix and match the modern with the past; unpeeling influences on every play …. while never not sounding like Native Harrow.
The finale; Find a Reason is spectacularly timeless ….. beautiful lyrics matched with a vocal performance worthy of any great Americana or Folk singer you can think of; but yet again ….. it’s simply Stephen Harms and especially Devin Tuel doing what they do best; and that’s better than most.
For my Favourite song; and it is always the song I’m drawn to … not just the peripheral sounds of singer and musicians; no matter how good they are … and here they are much better than ‘good’; so I’m torn between the title track Old Kind Of Magic which is the prefect imaginative love song soundtrack to the sun coming up over a damp meadow, when the future can be anything you want it to be.
The other, I Remember is the type of bewitching Folk song that I would have no qualms pointing people (like me) towards who hadn’t heard of Native Harrow before and were wondering if they should tender their hard earned cash for something by them. It’s almost perfect and certainly an ‘ear worm’ which is an oddity in this word.
There you have it; while traditionally a cynic, I am an overnight convert to this couple originally from Pennsylvania and now living in rural Suffolk; one of England’;”s most beautiful yet forgotten counties.
Released 28th October 2022
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