THE FURROW COLLECTIVE – Blow Out The Moon (Furrow FURR009)

THE FURROW COLLECTIVE Blow Out The MoonBlow Out The Moon is a five track EP from The Furrow Collective: Alasdair Roberts, Emily Portman, Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton. All the tracks are traditional except for the tune of the title track which was written by Lucy for a children’s verse found in a book called Far, Far Away and it goes without saying that it isn’t anywhere near long enough.

It has to be said that The Furrow Collective don’t always pick the jolliest material and, indeed, the centrepiece of this record is Rachel’s version of ‘The Unquiet Grave’. There is, however, a sprightliness about this set that isn’t the band’s rather stately debut album, At Our Next Meeting. Lucy zips through ‘Poor Old Horse’ in under two minutes and Emily gives us a positively bouncy ‘Shule Agra’.

Alasdair can hold an audience spellbound with just his voice and an old ballad but here he contributes a bit of Irish gentleness in ‘Lament To The Moon’ from the singing of the late Packie Manus Byrne. The final track combines ‘Oh To Be In My Bed And Happit’ led by Alasdair and ‘Blow Out The Moon’ to send us happily to bed. Blow Out The Moon is a splendid set which whets the appetite for more.

Dai Jeffries

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Artists’ website: http://www.thefurrowcollective.co.uk/

Needless to say, it’s too soon for any video from Blow Out The Moon so here’s a live cut of ‘The Blantyre Explosion’ from their album:

EMILY PORTMAN – Coracle (Furrow Records FURR008)

CoracleI’ve always been a fan of Emily Portman’s songwriting; less so in the past of her performances. Hearing her recently with the reunited Devil’s Interval, however, I was struck by the impact that years of writing, playing and singing, leadership of her trio (Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton, who are the bedrock of this album), not to mention motherhood have had on her.

I still think that Emily is at her best when she is working from traditional themes so my favourite tracks reflect that. ‘Brink Of June’ is a May song and only the title might stop you from researching the traditional source. ‘Borrowed And Blue’ holds up a mirror to ‘The Cruel Mother’ with plays on the words “buried” and “bridal/bridle”. Like many other songs in this set it seems preoccupied with the process of motherhood, with an almost Catholic sense of guilt. I’m certain that Emily is happy with her role but you can read a lot into her words.

Call me weird but ‘Seed Stitch’ reads like an allegory for the loss of virginity, something that is irreplaceable, while ‘Dotterine’, derived from an Estonian fairy-tale, mythologizes the act of giving birth while omitting the unhappy ending of the source story. As ever, many of Emily’s songs seem to come from a mysterious other world. There is a simple explanation behind ‘Darkening Bell’ for example but don’t let that put you off and ‘Nightjar’ embodies many ideas although we’re also talking about motherhood again.

Coracle isn’t exactly an easy album but it is a very powerful one and it will only serve to reinforce Emily’s reputation as one of the country’s best young songwriters.

Dai Jeffries

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Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us. Can’t find what you are looking for? Search Amazon Store below.

Artist’s website: www.emilyportman.co.uk