Where Shall We Begin is an intense and lovely (almost Baroque ornamented) very modern folk album.
Quite frankly, it could well be the soundtrack to my backyard butterflies bouncing and flitting in the winged wind – with, of course, my English setter pup Matilda giving determined, yet playful pursuit.
Where Shall We Begin is, indeed, planted in deep folk earth, but it often evaporates into a deep blood of melodic introspection.
Yeah, this music, once again, glances at the British singer-songwriters of the 70’s. The first song, ‘Where Shall We Begin’, with its acoustic and razor-sharp spikey spaces between the notes, conjures the stoic beauty of Bridget St. John with her ornate album, Songs For A Gentle Man and the more rocky Jumblequeen. Big complement, there! And there’s a bit of Vashti Bunyan in here, too.
In contrast, ‘Deserve’ gets a big ballad slow-motion dramatic treatment with drums and electric guitar. The tune, with its pedal steel sound, evokes both the sad lonely pathos of Lucinda Williams, but, oddly, the intense groove of Pink Floyd, circa ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’.
Ditto for ‘Work Of Art’, that manages to grind coffee beans with a light acoustic flavour into a heavy caffeinated punch, with a deep bass, percussion, a profound guitar, and celestial keyboards. And my English setter pup, Matilda, continues to chase any ephemeral butterfly’s wispy melodies.
It’s just an idea, but Where Shall We Begin runs a parallel to the very popular (and really quite nice!) band, London Grammar, whose music encases Hannah Reid’s voice in a swath of electronics, Chloe Foy manages the same warm passion while being framed with more traditional folk-rock instrumentation.
But, despite the ornamentation, Where Shall We Begin is a butter churning and lamb fry loving folk album. ‘Evangeline’ swirls with an acoustic guitar and mandolin, while a keyboard hovers over Chloe’s late harvest and pure Gloucestershire vocal. And ‘Asylum’ gets Eastern vibe friendly, with an acoustic guitar and comforting percussion, while a hand-dyed vocal punctuates the tune which conjures the gentle horse-drawn wagon spirit, once again, of (the before-mentioned) Vashti Bunyan. Then, ‘Bones’ is acid folk and very wonderful. The tune escapes into its own introspective beauty, and asks, “What do you see in me that you love”, which suggests an acknowledged meager hand in a cosmic poker game, all the while singing from a dense glade—the type described in a Thomas Hardy novel, whose plot probably concerns one woman loved by several men (with at least one of whom is a cad!). Next, ‘Shining Star’ is catchy, quick, extremely sinister, and once again, echoes the instrumentation of a Pink Floyd tune—indeed, be “careful with that axe Eugene”!
In contrast, ‘Left Centered Weight’ is upbeat, with a strident acoustic guitar that’s juxtaposed to a fairly heavy band sound that dissolves into the next ephemeral song ‘And It Goes’, with its passionate double-tracked vocal that approaches sainthood and an organ which comforts like a quietly pensive stain glass church window, worthy of a comparison to Matthew Fisher in his Procol Harum ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’ days.
The final tune, ‘Square Fare’, is yet another lush folk song with a vocal that flutters in a dramatic wind, and then gives voice to hovering ghosts who always enjoy a chance to whisper questions, yet always depart without giving voice to any semblance of a much-desired answer. The song drips with patient beauty.
Where Shall We Begin is an intense and lovely very modern folk album of butterfly danced tunes, which my very English setter pup Matilda will, forever and an ever-sunny day, love to chase.
Artist’s website: https://www.chloefoy.com/
‘Shining Star’ – official video::