NATIVE HARROW – Old Kind Of Magic (Loose Music)

Old Kind Of MagicNative Harrow’s new album, Old Kind Of Magic has the beautiful depth of a gossamer web, and it has the musical width of Emily Dickinson’s poetic insight that, “Much Madness is divinest Sense”. This album glances back at the free range of 70’s folk with psych touches, a love of Joni Mitchell, introspective lyricism, west coast Laurel Canyon freedom, delightful steel petal, lovely lead Devin Tuel vocals, and sundry instrumental contributions from Stephen Harms – all glimpsed through the fluid eyes of these two expatriate Americans’ new home in England’s “green and pleasant” Sussex County.

Yes, we American Anglophiles have always taken to heart Peter Gabriel’s Lamb line, “I feel the pull of the rope, let me off at the rainbow”. Well, sure. But a London Tube stop at the Waterloo sunsetted station would also quite nicely suffice.

That all said, Native Harrow are quite different from folk contemporaries such as The Civil Wars and The Blackfeathers who crisscross vocal harmonies. Rather, NH travel tributary streams that are all sourced from the myriad rivers of 70’s folk tradition. The first tune, ‘Song For Joan’ (sort of) explains itself: Gulls, surf, and flute sounds pave the thought for a journey of a song. A piano touches fragile drama. This is Joni Mitchell’s Blue dancing with a pint in hand (to quote The Beatles) “at the local Bird and Bee”. Ditto for the jaunty title song, ‘Old Kind Of Magic’. The tune swells into yet another tributary that hits its pub dart board mark with a rather nice folk feathered melody.

Then, ‘Heart Of Stone’ drips with steel pedal Americana sagebrush sincerity. The great Linda Ronstadt comes to mind. The tune is long and lonesome, like a drive through beloved Wyoming country.

The same is true for two more songs: ‘I Was Told’ and ‘Used To Be Free’ which echo more Joni Mitchell “hejira” pursuit with bluesy passion and weightless “coyote” perception.

Then (also again!), ‘As It Goes’ could well be the soundtrack to Mr. Peabody (of his cartoon Wayback Machine bow tie wearing beagle fame!) as he instructs his boy Sherman as to the bounty and beauty of 60’s organ-injected psychedelic laced pop music. The organ does a go-go dance, while Devin’s vocals stretch the boundaries of perception. The tune is a fun house stroll.

And, ‘Magic Eye’ waifs on the very same melodic pipedream. Yeah, it’s yet another psych river tributary, and it kindles a very pleasant memory of the wonderful (and personal fav!) American Hoboken, New Jersey band Tiny Lights.

The final songs ooze romanticism. ‘I Remember’ rides into sunset colours with more steel pedal and a country western vibe. ‘Long Long Road’ and ‘Find A Reason’ are two more ‘Song(s) For Joan’, the first with big expressive orchestration, while the latter is bare-bones confessional Blue stuff with an admission “I’m not good at being proud”, and then suggests “a look up into the night sky”, with uncertain goodness and hope of “a lot more living to do”.

And that is, truly, really nice Old Kind Of Magic that has all the “green and pleasant” vibe of a British folk song – with or without a Fairport B-side with way too many words in its title – yet yielding to the beautiful depth of a gossamer web that still has the musical Americana width of Emily Dickinson’s insight into poetic eternity, singing forever and a day, “Much Madness”, indeed, “is divinest Sense”.

Bill Golembeski

Artists’ website:

‘Old Kind Of Magic’ – official video:

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