Come The Turn Of The Season is the debut full-length album by Kate Shayler and Chris Brooke following an EP, Colouring Outside The Lines. Kate is from London, which is where the duo met and Chris is a Dorset expatriate and that fact will be important later. Kate plays banjo and Chris plays guitar and violin and throws in some percussion and both sing lead and harmonies. They are supported by double bass and drums but if you think you know what they sound like – a guitar and banjo duo – you’d be quite wrong.
Shayler & Brooke’s songs are poetic and suffused with memories of the past. The opening track, ‘Hops & Hallelujahs’, is Chris’ recollection of leaving his home town of Dorchester and realising that what made the town home has disappeared in a few short years. It’s something we’ve all experienced and, to lift a favourite quotation from Andy White, we have the back-story but not the front-story. In contrast ‘Orleans’ is the front-story of a visit to New Orleans remembering jasmine and beignets and trains.
‘Dublin’ looks back to a trip to the city just before the death of Chris’ grandmother and while reflecting on her funeral he realises that he will return to Ireland. Death is present again in ‘Setting Street’ but we turn to politics with the bluesy bass-driven ‘Hard Chairs’ and the messy state of the world with ‘Old Dirt Track’. ‘Faith’ sees Chris again considering his Irish ancestry and ‘Come And Go’ has Kate writing about loss and death once more. You might think that this is getting a bit depressing but the clever lyrics of all these songs obviates the feeling. In particular, ‘Time Heals Wounds’, concerning another of Chris’ aged relatives, turns the problem of old age and infirmity on its head. Finally, ‘At Sea’ mixes motion sickness and a summer heatwave – I know but it works.
Come The Turn Of The Season is a beautiful album, serious without being solemn and delicately performed with just enough in the arrangements to keep you listening without getting in the way of the songs.
Artists’ website: www.shaylerandbrooke.co.uk
‘Orleans’ – live:
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