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

Garth Brooks: Gunslinger (Sony)

Garth Brooks: Gunslinger (Sony)

When Garth Brooks emerged in the Nineties and professed as much love for rock bands like Kansas and Kiss as the country legends he invited immediate derision from critics who looked for... > Read more

Asa: Beautiful Imperfection (Dramatico/Border)

Asa: Beautiful Imperfection (Dramatico/Border)

Three years ago the self-titled major label debut of this Parisian/Nigerian drew intelligent links between the socially conscious music of Joan Armatrading, Tracy Chapman and Bob Marley, and... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Joe Ely: Live at Antones (2000)

Joe Ely: Live at Antones (2000)

After Joe Strummer's terrific showing at the Big Day Out in 2000, albums by his old band the Clash got a fair thrashing round my way, especially their sprawling three-album set from 1980,... > Read more

Pecan crusted chicken breasts

Pecan crusted chicken breasts

In early 2005 Megan and I went on a drive around the Pacific Northwest of the States: San Francisco to Sacramento then up through Oregon to Seattle, and back down the coast. Before we left I... > Read more