WARD KNÚTUR TOWNES – Unanswered (Betty Beetroot Records BETTY05)

UnansweredUnanswered is a votive candle folk album that burns with melodic wisdom. While Sir Paul McCartney may have found “the meaning of life” in “seven levels”, Unanswered, by England’s Lucy Ward, Iceland’s Svavar Knútur, and Canada’s Adyn Townes, condenses sublime revelation into their folk trio format.

The first song, ‘Astronaut’, sung by the unique voice of Adyn, contemplates space, time, and love. And then Lucy Ward’s voice adds a solo verse, until both voices dance “in the fabric of space”. It’s an oddly loveable tune.

But ‘Paper Plane’ is folk purity sung to the nth degree and recalls the weird beauty of Martin and Jessica Ruby Simpson’s dual voiced brilliant album Band Of Angels.

The collaboration continues. ‘Work It Out’ is a quick-paced tune with a great melody, that perhaps has the very same breath as a good latter day Fleetwood Mac song. But then, ‘Seasons’ retreats to a wooded cabin memory melody, with a dual-voiced feather bed warm comforted soft lunar landing. And Svavar sings immaculate halos around ‘Isn’t It Funny’, while strings pulse soft exclamation points amid the song’s full tidal beauty.

But then all three voices sing ‘Everything’, as the tune floats on Adyn’s distinctive vocal, while Lucy adds folk drama, and Svavar creates a lovely quietude. They all harmonise the end of the song, which has a hypnotic David Crosby ‘Music Is Love’ vibe. Nice.

Oh my, Lucy propels the dark spirited ‘Aurora’, which conjures the soul of Linda Thompson, Annie Haslam, and Karine Polwart. An electric guitar dances on melodic gravestones that thankfully cover the final folk thoughts (to get all literary!) of Thomas Hardy’s pathos ridden characters. It’s a great British traditional song.

‘Medusa’, with Svavar’s trembling vocals and a big arrangement, continues the drama. Nice, again!

And then the stark simplicity of ‘Your Love Was Death To Me’ cuts into a tough vein. It doesn’t quite have the absurd despair of Richard Thompson’s ‘The End Of The Rainbow’, but with a “kiss like killer bees”, it comes pretty darn close.

The title track, ‘Unanswered’, with the stark vocals of Lucy melded into Svavar’s Medieval vesperal tone, spins an ancient acoustic tapestry that flickers in the spent wax of dripped candle colour.

And ditto (several times over!) as the brief song, ‘Organ Brim’, is yet another votive offering with an ancient mystical aura. It’s a really nice final thought.

Ward Knútur Townes sing with an Unanswered world wisdom that’s propelled (metaphorically!) by one of those old Ford Trimotors “Tin Goose” airplanes that, with three melodic engines burning into the grooves, makes stops in London, Iceland, and Canada, without turbulence, but thankfully, with the wonderful acoustic lift of truly great folk music.

Bill Golembeski

Artists’ website: www.wardknuturtownes.com

‘While The World Burns’ – a remote collaboration (not on Unanswered):