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The Magpie Arc – EP1

Collective/Perspective – 25 September 2020

Often, while you consider folk-rock, a particular set of photos involves thoughts: these sunny images of Fairport Conference lounging on the grass, a big and pleasant canine someplace within the background, or possibly the duvet picture of Steeleye Span’s Beneath The Salt, the band having fun with a type of faux-medieval banquet. Photographs that signify a golden age, from the late-sixties to the mid-seventies, when folks music loved large plans, large sound and relatively large budgets. A lot of what was good in that period was born out of nice musicianship coupled with a way of camaraderie, of belonging. You possibly can inform from these photos – these have been folks having a superb time, in it collectively.

Anglo-Scottish quintet The Magpie Arc fashioned with the intention of replicating a few of that camaraderie and reinjecting some life right into a style that, by the band’s personal admission, has been in a little bit of a artistic rut because the glory days. It’s a tantalising proposition, and what makes it much more thrilling is the calibre of musicians concerned. Singer and violinist Nancy Kerr and guitar virtuoso Martin Simpson have a number of awards and many years of expertise between them, singer and guitarist Adam Holmes has launched a string of acclaimed albums, together with 2017’s Midnight Milk, which mixed traditional songwriting with a rootsy strategy and components of gospel and blues. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Tom A. Wright has labored with the Albion Band (nonetheless going robust after rising from the folk-rock origin story as some of the fascinating bands of the period), and bassist Alex Hunter has been a long-standing member of Holmes’ backing group The Embers and in addition takes care of the administration facet of issues.

In addition to their apparent credentials as musicians, there’s a wealth of songwriting high quality within the band, one thing that allows them to carry some new colors to the folk-rock palette. Add to that the presence of producer and engineer John Wooden – a real big of the scene who labored on albums by Nick Drake and John Martyn – and also you’ve obtained all of the components for one thing particular.

However the music scene is a really totally different place now, and The Magpie Arc, who started recording earlier than lockdown, have needed to watch it change. So it’s all of the extra spectacular that they’ve managed to seize the essence of togetherness, of being in a correct band, simply as the entire idea of being in a band seemed prefer it would possibly change past recognition.

They’ve chosen to separate their preliminary recordings into three separate EP releases, and the 4 tracks of EP1 are an ideal introduction. Opener Canon – written and sung by Kerr – begins with a decidedly trendy twist, however the shimmering manufacturing and an icy sheet of guitar quickly give strategy to a traditional slice of folk-rock, underpinned by Wright’s propulsive drumming. Simpson’s guitar work is distinguished all through, channelling nation as a lot as folks, and completely reflecting the sharp chilly and merciless sea referenced within the lyrics. Kerr’s songwriting is harking back to Sandy Denny’s, superficially at the very least, however her supply owes extra to Maddy Prior. The tune achieves the feat of being wholly unique while successfully pinning down the traditional folk-rock sound.

At any time when I’m Alone is a collaboration between Properties and Wright. It delves additional into the bands preoccupation with Americana, with components of Sweetheart Of The Rodeo-era Byrds, 70s Dylan and even perhaps the Jayhawks, backed up by some uplifting harmonies and a jaunty swirl of violin. Sticking with the theme of Americana, Simpson contributes Love By no means Dies, a slowly unfolding portrait which showcases his underrated skills as a lyricist and vocalist in addition to his much-heralded guitar-playing. Once more, the harmonies on the refrain are a hanging function, excessive and lonesome, stuffed with the area of the open highway.

Holmes’ Autumn Leaves rounds off the EP with a melancholic but melodic be aware, showcasing his songwriting skills and as soon as once more mining the wealthy seam between nation and folks. It’s bolstered by a easy however immediately memorable refrain. It brings to an in depth a various and brilliantly executed set of songs from a really gifted group of musicians and bodes extraordinarily effectively for what’s to observe.

Learn our interview with The Magpie Arc right here:

EP1 is accessible digitally, CD and Restricted Version Vinyl

Order EP1 on Restricted Version 10″ Colored Vinyl With Digital Obtain right here:

Obtain by way of Bandcamp:

Extra info right here:

You possibly can hear two tracks from EP1 within the newest Folks Radio UK present – Misplaced in Transmission No. 63

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