Album review: NINEBARROW – The Waters & The Wild

NINEBARROW - The Waters & The Wild

[Release date 20.04.18]

Ninebarrow hail from Dorset (the duo’s name comes from Nine Barrow Down in the Purbeck hills) comprised of Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere. On this, their third album, they use an outside producer for the first time in Mark Tucker. They are joined by musical guests including Barney Morse-Brown (strings), Lee Cuff (cello), Evan Carson (bodhran) and the charmingly named the Teacups on backing vocals.

A quick word about the songbook that comes with the album. No expense spared here with a full colour booklet giving a bit of background to each song, along with the lyrics. Attention to detail on everything in this album then from the music though to the packaging and presentation.

Both enjoy the countryside as can be heard throughout the album, none more so than on ‘The Hour Of The Blackbird’. The vocal harmonies on this one recall Simon & Garfunkel, yes they are that good. Elsewhere songs cover murder (always a good folk song staple!), adapting the poem of W.B.Yeats ‘The Stolen Child’ on the title track and more of those sublime harmonies on ‘Overthrown’ – the piano and cinematic arrangements make this perfect for a future film soundtrack.

The album ends with a haunting version of John Kirkpatrick’s ‘Sing A Full Song’, what a way to end the album. If the vocals on this one don’t move you I don’t know what will!

If you still think folk is all men in Arran sweaters, fingers in the ear and tankards, think again as the folk world is currently producing a string of talented, young musicians who successfully mix new and old traditional songs and music. Ninebarrow have been deservedly gaining plaudits including one from Mark Radcliffe and fRoots magazine, as they combine folk and atmospheric songs with ease. Expect ‘The Waters & The Wild’ to appear in this year’s best folk albums lists.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

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