VELVET & STONE – Velvet & Stone (own label LVID03)

Velvet & StoneFollowing three EPs, Devon duo singer and songwriter Lara Snowdon and violinist Kathryn Tremlett finally release their eponymous debut album, Velvet & Stone one which more than lives up to expectations.

Accompanied by Kev Jackson on guitar, producer Josiah Manning on keys and rhythm section Paddy Blight and Garry Kroll, they explore a realm of dark indie-folk that touches on both traditional and contemporary, poppy, influences. It’s the latter that kicks the album off with ‘Fisherman’s Blues’, not The Waterboys number, but a self-penned (as is all the material) song from their 2016 debut Storms EP on which, accompanied by steady march drum beat and Tremlett’s fiddle drone draws on the area’s fishing tradition and how girlfriend and wives would stare out to sea awaiting their loved ones’ return, some of whom never did.

Another previous release, ‘Oh Boy’ keeps the dark folk colours, but ups the tempo for a drums, violin and guitar driven song of unrequited love that makes effective use of dramatic musical pause and a surging chorus that suggests they’ve spent some time listening to Seth Lakeman. While charting a similar thematic course of rejection, things rein back in slightly for ‘Lay Her Down’ before it starts to build to a doomy, violin-lashed climax with Snowden’s impassioned vocals full of fire and fury.

Co-penned with Roger Styles, underlaid with keyboards and acoustic guitar, over which Tremlett’s violin weaves haunting notes, ‘Breathe’ is of a dreamier persuasion but still finds Snowdon yearning for a love out of reach.

Bubbling with pizzicato violin notes and Manning’s banjuitar, ‘Walls’ is another swelling number tossed on the tides of love resisted, drawing on siege metaphors, she sings “If I come here with my armies and breach the castle walls/Will the bricks and mortar crumble if I could love you more?”.

While that is constructed with traditional folk wattle and daub, ‘By The Water’ builds its love is blind longing and river imagery with a more folk-pop framework, opening with strummed guitar before a pulsing reminiscence of The Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ gives way to an infectious, soaring chorus. Whether by coincidence or design, there’s a watery ambience to the keys and violin on the steady rhythmic march of ‘Am I Dreaming?’ the lyrics of which combine both beating wings and undercurrent tugs, maintaining a similar soundscape and the double-tracked vocals of ‘Forget About The Rain’, a keeningly dreamy, pop-inflected number of the sun after the rain relationship metaphor variety. It ends back in traditional style with Tremlett laying down a sprightly West Country folksy fiddle backing to ‘I’ll Dream Of You Tonight’ as, again drawing on images of oceans, waves and shores, it bursts into a lively Morris-like fiddle and drums instrumental romping finale.

Hopefully, Snowdon’s songwriting doesn’t reflect the state of her own romantic life, but even if it does, the duo can rest assured that this hugely confident and impressive album is going to ensure there’s plenty of love out there for them.

Mike Davies

Artists’ website: www.velvetstonemusic.com

‘By The Water’ – officially live:

Velvet & Stone announce their debut album

Velvet & Stone

Velvet & Stone’s highly anticipated debut album is released on August 2nd 2019. The self-titled album is a collection of the band’s songs which they’ve crafted at gigs and festivals since they formed in 2014, and is inspired by the creative partnership between the band’s front women Lara Snowdon and Kathryn Tremlett.

Drawing upon the wild, natural landscapes of their home county of Devon, folk tales, and personal stories of love and loss, the album weaves traditional threads with a fresh and contemporary take on folk, putting the album at the cutting edge of its genre.

Topped and tailed by the band’s more traditional tracks; ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ and ‘I’ll Dream Of You Tonight’; the album takes the listener on a journey rooted in dark indie-folk-rock which comes to prominence on ‘Lay Her Down’, ‘Oh Boy’ and ‘Walls’, through to an insight on unrequited love with folk-pop tunes ‘By The Water’ and ‘Breathe’. Towards the end of the album the band explore their characteristic dreamy soundscapes on ‘Am I Dreaming’ and ‘Forget About The Rain’.

All songs are characterised by the honesty of Lara’s song-writing and vocal, and Kat’s expressive violin. Supported by their band Paddy Blight on bass, Garry Kroll on drums, and Kev Jackson on guitar. The album is produced by Josiah Manning at Momentum Studios, who also plays keys on the album.

Velvet & Stone’s brand of indie folk combines haunting soundscapes with catchy pop hooks and great songs; providing an original and beautiful take on a traditional genre. Crafting their live set with performances at Cambridge Folk Festival, Celtic Connections and Larmer Tree Festivals, they take their audiences on a journey through stunning melodies and soundscapes to foot-stomping folk-rock.

Led by the ethereal combination of Lara Snowdon’s vocals, and Kathryn Tremlett’s violin; Velvet & Stone’s music draws upon personal stories, melancholy tales and rugged landscapes, creating a sound that is difficult to forget. Supported by their band Paddy Blight (double bass), Kev Jackson (guitar) and Garry Kroll (drums), the band weave traditional threads and combine them with folk-revival and contemporary flavours.

Velvet & Stone have been likened to a twenty-first century Fairport Convention, and comparisons drawn with Seth Lakeman, Mumford & Sons, and Laura Marling. Their music has gained plaudits from across the music press, airtime on BBC Radio 2, BBC

Velvet & Stone is the band’s fourth recording. Their discography includes:

The Storm EP (2016)
The Embers EP (2017)
The Live EP (2018)

Artists’ website:  www.velvetstonemusic.com

‘By The Water’ – live in a wood:

SINGLES BAR 41 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar 41It slipped out late last year with virtually no publicity, so perhaps it’s time to shine a light on Voices Of Equilibrium (Silvertone), a four-track EP of covers from three part harmony Devon trio WILDWOOD KIN, sisters Beth and Emillie Key and cousin Meghann Loney. There’s some surprising choices, though Tracy Chapman’s ‘Talkin’ Bout A Revolution’ is the least so since it at least occupies the folk genre field. That said, the arrangement with its glistening keys and subsequent heavy drums immediately rings the changes on the original.

That’s certainly true of their take on ‘The Pretender’, not the Jackson Browne one but the Foo Fighters track, which they’ve slowed down into a moody dank folk affair while still bring urgency, albeit of a different shade to the refrain. Meanwhile, shifting the goalposts once again, ‘Dream On’ was a 2006 electro pop dance floor hit for Christian Falk and Robyn, though, even with its undulating electronic beat, even they might be hard-pressed to recognise this dreamy chamber folk reimagining with its cascading harmonies and twinkling sonic snowflakes.

Stevie Wonder provides the final cut, his boogie funk ‘Higher Ground’ transformed with a single vocal and hummed backing, handclaps and a muted drum thump gospel-like intro before the instrumentation fills out for a fixed and narrow-eyed tribal rhythm groove mid-section with what sounds like distorted scuzzy bass. A superb reminder that if you’re going to do a cover, especially crossing genres, then you need to make it your own. The trio have full possession.
https://www.wildwoodkin.com/

PoetsANNE LEITH & LES OMAN hail from Campbeltown and their EP, Poets, celebrates the work of two local writers, George Campbell Hay and Angus Martin. Anne and Les play guitars, bouzouki and keyboards but don’t overdo the accompaniments – the words are most important here. They stick to Hay’s English poetry but Martin’s ‘The Hird’s Hoose’ is in lowland Scots as far as we can judge. Anyone who thinks that they can write a “traditional” Scottish song (except Archie Fisher, who can do it) should listen to these songs – the opener, ‘The Fisherman Speaks’ is a gem.
www.anneandles.scot

Singles Bar 41A second taster for the upcoming self-released debut album, singer Lara Snowdon and violinist Kathryn Tremlett joined by Kev Jackson on electric guitar, Josiah Manning on keys and the rhythm section of Paddy Blight and Garry Kroll, VELVET & STONE follow-up ‘Oh Boy’ with, after a simply strummed intro, the equally fulsome sounding folk-rock ‘By The Water’, quite literally a love is blind story about confessing your feelings.
https://www.velvetstonemusic.com/

Singles Bar 41Is “Lena Kalinka, have you got space in your heart for a narcissist thinker” any way to begin a song? Absolutely. ‘Lena Kalinka’ is the first track on Poetical Resistance, the new EP by GABRIEL MORENO & THE QUIVERING POETS. Gabriel and the band combine English and Spanish musical strands and the influences of such songwriters as Leonard Cohen. He would be a perfect musical partner for Keith James. ‘Overstay Your Welcome’ is a string-drenched track with a very Cohenish structure overlaid with a Mediterranean gypsy violin and the closing ‘We Are What We Are’ is built on acoustic guitar. The chorus of ‘Silly Old Dreams’ strikes something of a false note but that is the record’s only fault.
www.gabrielmoreno.co.uk

Singles Bar 41There are eight of THE JAMESTOWN BROTHERS from Somerset although one or two of them would appear to be Jamestown Sisters and Singing For Our Supper is their debut EP. Their mixture of good-time country, folk and blues is reminiscent of the early days of The Men They Couldn’t Hang with fiddle and brass fleshing out the sound. A song like ‘Take Your Medicine’ over keyboards and horns is harder and almost mainstream while ‘Everybody Take A Drink’ has an Irish flavour. The Jamestown Brothers must be a great festival band.
http://www.thejamestownbrothers.co.uk/

AtomsBreathily-voiced Guildford-based country pop singer-songwriter EMMA STEVENS self-releases her Atoms EP, featuring two collaborations with Kevin Jeremiah from The Feeling, the jaunty strumalong ‘Because It’s You’ and the uplifting ‘Soldier On’. The title track, presumably written in response to her mother’s passing, is a gentle fingerpicked acoustic celebration of being a part of everything and how death is just another beginning, the remaining cuts being the upbeat romantic euphoria of ‘Bells And Whistles’ and the more staccato rhythms of the self-explanatory feelings of ‘Home’.
https://emmastevensmusic.com/

True StraysTRUE STRAYS are a blues-rock trio from Bristol although they have lots of friends helping out. Once you get past the silly introduction track, Homeward Bound is pretty good and as you listen you begin to realise that they are rather cleverer than the down-and-dirty image they like to promote. Their sound is built around a big bass played by Joe James and buzz-saw guitar by lead vocalist James Cameron, all laid over solid drums by Matt Cooke. We reckon that they must be great live.
www.truestrays.com

Ghost TrainStourbridge-based acoustic bluesman SUNJAY returns to form after the well-played but soulless Black & Blues and the pointless covers set Sunjay Sings Buddy with ‘Ghost Train’ (self-released), a taster for the upcoming Devil Came Calling. Co-written with producer Eddy Morton, it’s a chugging piano and violin-coloured blues tribute to yesteryear heroes that namechecks a cast list that namechecks, among others, Holly, President Kennedy, Muddy Waters, Judy Garland, Babe Ruth, the Big Bopper Martin Luther King, and Monroe. By contrast, the flip side, ‘Too Close To The Sun’, another driving blues co-penned with Henry Priestman and Les Glover, deals with an increasingly unstable addictive relationship.
https://www.sunjay.tv/

Since YesterdayKARINE POLWART releases another single from her forthcoming album, Karine Polwart’s Scottish Songbook. ‘Since Yesterday’ is the 1984 synth-pop Strawberry Switchblade song but it begins with a crackly old recording of her grandfather singing ‘The Rose Of Tralee’. Originally about youthful angst,  Karine’s piano-led reinterpretation of the song gives it to us old-timers. We’re looking forward to the album already.
https://www.karinepolwart.com/

Blue Hounds‘Blue Hounds’ is the new single from REN. Superficially, it’s a gentle acoustic guitar driven song with some nice single string picking but there’s an underlying message about living in politically difficult times. No need to explain who the blue hounds are but Ren does have red roses growing in his garden.
https://www.renofficialmusic.com/

Pete GardinerPETE GARDINER tackles the world’s problems with his new single, ‘Dangerous People’. Originally from Northern Ireland, he adopts a laconic drawl over acoustic guitar for the verses and allows the song to build up over the choruses. His words are clever, inviting comparisons with Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan, and his delivery seems instantly familiar without being a copy of anyone. We could use an album like this.
https://www.petegardiner.co.uk/

Siren's CallSinger and harpist KRISTIN REBECCA releases a single, ‘Siren’s Call’ which may be from a new album. Despite her being based in Maryland, you might take her for British at first – her voice is strong and clear and although her fellow New Englanders may be able to identify her accent it’s beyond us.
https://www.kristinrebecca.com/