NAVARO – Songs From The Darkwood (digital download)

Songs From The DarkwoodHere at folking we’ve followed Navaro’s career since Beth Navaro’s 2007 solo album. I even ventured into the wilds of St Albans to hear them – a memorable gig featuring a guest appearance by the late and much lamented Gareth Turner. Steve Austin tells me that nowadays Navaro are playing and recording informally and the current economic climate means that their latest album, Songs From The Darkwood, is released digitally.

That informality means that the band sound very relaxed and the music is more in line with their early work although Songs From The Darkwood does break out here and there. All three, Steve, Beth and Pete White, have contributed songs and their harmonies are as tight as always. The opening track, ‘The Fall’ is built on powerful but restrained bass, acoustic guitar and keyboards and when the three voices meld together there is more than a hint of CSN about them. On first hearing it brought a smile to my face. Beth takes lead vocal on ‘Walking With Ghosts’, a reworking of an old song. ‘My 3 Wishes’ has a country-ish feel and the vocal suits the song perfectly. I think it’s Pete taking the lead but if I say that it’s certain to be Steve. Ho hum.

Pete wrote ‘Fearing Yesterday’ and here is where the band cuts loose with the big sound they made in their pomp. ‘When The Storms Have Gone’ sees Beth taking the lead over a ringing acoustic guitar. Some of the recording was done in the winter on Steve’s narrow boat and this song has that feel. ‘The Thing Is’ is a philosophical love song and another standout track while the single, ‘Never Let Me Go’, features Beth over serious drums and a bass part doing much of the heavy lifting. ‘Falling Down’ is written by Pete and starts with lovely acoustic guitar before everyone joins in with bass, drums and chorus vocals.

‘Waveforms’ is another old song being revisited and is classic Navaro with Beth’s voice over a rich accompaniment and she takes the lead again on ‘You Walk With Me’. Steve says that the recording of ‘Phoenix’ was an attempt to capture the feel of a work in progress – a song being sung for the first time without any unnecessary frills. Finally, ‘Innocence’, written by Pete, features a guest appearance by Mark Stevens and has the feel of a western song without the country bits. It’s like something that Steve Knightley might have had a hand in.

Songs From The Darkwood is a lovely set of songs performed, by and large, in an intimate style – although I don’t know how they got the drum kit on board the boat. Highly recommended.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website:

The original ‘Waveforms’ demo:

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