The Orphan Brigade
To The Edge of The World
Intensely Beautiful and Windswept Tales of Love, Life and Dreaming.
While 99.99% of the population will never have heard of the members that make up The Orphan Brigade, I can’t help but think of them as a ‘Roots Supergroup’; how else can you describe the combination of Neilson Hubbard, Ben Glover and Joshua Britt? Answer me that?
On the back of their superb HEART OF THE CAVE, they have come up with another stunning golden concept based around living on Northern Ireland’s rugged West Coast (although many of the songs easily transfer to many other similar territories).
Just like their previous release I’m struggling to find a convenient peg to hang these songs on; they certainly have a Folk thread to them, but is it simply Irish or probably Celtic in origin, but also quite Americana at times and a couple of songs are on the verge of ‘Folk Rock’…… so if you’ve got this far, I will leave the final decision to you.
While certainly not a fan of bagpipes in any form, but the haunting (Irish) Pipes intro; courtesy Barry Kerr is the perfect way to start these dark and gloomily beautiful tales of life, love and dreaming.
This is followed by Mad Man’s Window; an atmospheric song that could easily come from any of Robert Plant’s solo albums and conjures up some amazing visions as a really taut drumbeat and combination of traditional acoustic instruments battle with the singer to gain your attention; and the winner is you.
Just when you think you are getting a handle on The Orphan Brigade they keep throwing musical time bombs that will catch you unawares hours after playing this record. Well, that’s what happened to me with the Fairhead’s Daughter and Black Nun yesterday.
The songs and stories will reel you in anyway, but for a ‘Folk album’ these songs are generally best played LOUD …….. especially Dance Me To The Edge of the World and the exceptional Banshee (*but other belters are available too).
All of these songs and constructions are quite complex; but courtesy of some classy production, all are easily accessible with the glorious Under The Chestnut Tree, Children of Lir and of course, Captain’s Song (featuring Mr John Prine) being prime examples.
While each individual song is its very own little vignette, adding them together in this fashion and with this particular running order makes it all become a bit of a ‘Theoretical Soundtrack’ hence selecting a Favourite Song very difficult indeed; but To The Edge of The World (Children’s Reprise) is simplicity itself and quite beautiful too; whereas the finale Mind The Road is as deep as it’s windswept yet the ghostly love song Isabella is the personification of a timeless song; and therefore takes the accolade.
Today has been the perfect day for writing this review; as the variable Autumn weather has been the perfect accompaniment for the light and shade that makes up this glorious LP.
Released September 27th 2019