TRUE FOXES – Howl (own label)

HowlAmie Parsons and Chloe Payne have become ubiquitous on music stations in the South West (and the rest of the UK, apparently) since the release of their EP Sunny in 2022, while building up an extraordinary number of appearances at festivals and in concert, in the company of some impressive names from Steve Knightly to Magpies or Sharps And Flats. However, their debut album Howl, scheduled for release on 1st March 2024, gives us eleven more reasons to listen out for them. At has to be said that to my ear there isn’t much of an overt folk influence here, even though much of the instrumentation is acoustic. If country rock and Americana appeal to you, though, there are some fine vocal harmonies here, some unobtrusively excellent playing, and some impossibly catchy songs with some clever lyrics.

Here’s the full line-up of earworms. I haven’t commented on them all, but there isn’t a track here that doesn’t hit the mark.

  1. ‘Devil’s Calling’: some bluegrass-y double-stopping fiddle suggests that the devil was calling on the way down to Georgia. (Am I showing my age?) The vocal performance, however, is rather more melodic than the Charlie Daniels hit,
  2. The fiddle on ‘Follow The Leader’ has even more of a bluegrass vibe, especially with five-string banjo added to the mix, while the playout definitely borders on the demonic.
  3. The title of ’17’ may call to mind vintage Janis Ian, but this is a very different song, with a sinister but energetic ambience.
  4. ‘Cry Wolf’
  5. ‘Thrive On Spite’
  6. ‘Higher’ is the second single from the album. While the tune reminds me a little in parts of the old McCoys/Merseys/Bowie hit ‘Sorrow’, it’s a typically assured performance. Actually, there’s probably an argument for any of these songs as a potential single.
  7. ‘Other Girl’ is the standout track for me, as much for the lyric as the restrained accompaniment. The lead vocal here and on ‘How Are You Now’ shows an ability to dip into a lower register that reminds me a little of Karen Carpenter or Megan Henwood, if we must make vocal comparisons.
  8. ‘How Are You Now?’ was the first single from the album. And very effective it is too.
  9. ‘Leave The Light On’
  10. ‘Wanderer’
  11. ‘Howl’ is a lot easier on the ear and nerves than the iconic Alan Ginsberg poem, with a gentle beat, trademark harmonies, and some pleasantly laidback fiddle.

As the publicity sheet I have only mentions Amie as a songwriter, I assume all the songs are hers, and very excellent they are, too. There isn’t a breakdown of exactly who does what instrumentally on each track, but Amie’s vocal, guitar, piano and banjo, and Chloe’s harmonies and bass, are augmented by Annie Baylis-Gray on fiddle (specifically mentioned on ‘How Are You Now’), fiddle and banjo player Danny Hart, Sam Garrard on banjo (notably on ‘Higher’ and ‘Thrive On Spite’), and drummer and electric guitarist Bo Payne. I’m sure I caught a couple of other instruments there too. However, it’s the pinpoint harmonies that define the True Foxes sound as unmistakeably as the (very different) sound of the Everly Brothers.

I’d heard enough of True Foxes before I received Howl to be sure I’d enjoy it, even though it’s much more pop than my usual listening of choice. Unexpectedly, I find myself now resigned to transferring it to an iGadget. Highly recommended.

David Harley

Artist’s website:

‘How Are You Now?’ – official video: