Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker: Overnight (Rough Trade)

 |   |  1 min read

Sweet the Sorrow
Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker: Overnight (Rough Trade)

Anyone who likes toned down and thoughtful singer-songwriter music but is a bit weary of the familiar dusty paths and rural routes of Americana must be applauding just how much British indie.folk is appearing these days.

From older names in reissue (Nick Drake, Bert Jansch) to newer faces (Kate Rusby, James Findlay), the long tradition is being explored and added to in ways which conjure up the more mysterious and poetic spirit of Anglofolk.

If Americana often has its boots in the dirt the British artists more frequently look to the clouds.

This duo – she the singer, saxophonist, he an independently acclaimed guitarist – here include, for example, a piece by the Renaissance composer John Dowland (1563-1626) and Milk and Honey by Jackson C Frank – the song famously covered by Sandy Denny – who is undergoing a rediscovery through reissues of his tiny catalogue. Although he was an American he made his name in Britain's vibrant folk scene in the early Sixties, where he wrote his classic Blues Run the Game.

There is a delicacy to these and the duo's original songs, natural imagery abounds (that great tradition of Romantic poets), sleep and dreams are scattered throughout, and only British singers can really pull off language like “come sleep and with thy sweet deceiving, lock me, delight awhile” (on Sleep, written by the mentally damaged composer/poet Ivor Gurney who died in '37).

With Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlins' Dark Turn of Mind (here given gentle and slightly more light-filled reading) and the string section and soft horns, this collection has rare breadth and depth, and sometimes an almost Elizabethan stateliness.

So no. No plastic Jesus on the dashboard or an Elvis reference.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Booker T: Potato Hole (Anti)

Booker T: Potato Hole (Anti)

This was either going to be brilliant, or . . .  First the background: here is the great soul-funk Hammond B3 organ player Booker T (he of Green Onions fame with the MGs, and that band... > Read more

Francisca Griffin: The Spaces Between (Coco Muse/digital outlets)

Francisca Griffin: The Spaces Between (Coco Muse/digital outlets)

In an engagingly monochromatic voice which alludes to the dispassionate indifference of Nico or the battered dignity of recent Marianne Faithfull, singer/guitarist Francisca Griffin –... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Lee Scratch Perry: Heavy Rain (On U Sound through Border)

Lee Scratch Perry: Heavy Rain (On U Sound through Border)

If the renegade Perry's Rainford album of earlier this year – produced by Adrian Sherwood – seemed to signal some final statement from the dub master then it was yet another piece... > Read more

Sweet Kale Salad by Womad 2014 guest Makana from Hawaii

Sweet Kale Salad by Womad 2014 guest Makana from Hawaii

Hawaiian guitarist Makana -- who is one of the guests at the forthcoming Womad in Taranaki -- offers a slack-key style of blues, jazz, Hawaiian and bluegrass sounds. He turned professional when... > Read more