Saturday, March 26, 2016

New Music 2016 - Part 21 - Ninebarrow - Releasing the Leaves

'Releasing the Leaves' is the second long-player from Dorset folk duo Ninebarrow, comprising John Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere. It was released on 26 March 2016.

There has long been superstition around a malaise known as "difficult second album syndrome": these days even getting the first album out there and noticed is a huge hurdle. Without a doubt Ninebarrow achieved that, magnum cum laude, with 2014 release 'While The Blackthorn Burns' that I mentioned here.
Like its predecessor 'Releasing the Leaves' consists of a mix of original and traditional tunes and songs. The balance is approximately equal, but you would often be hard pressed to guess which fall into each category. That could be either a blessing or a curse. 
My inclination is much towards the former opinion - this record had a satisfying coherence and that is a very good thing. This is the track list.
  • The Pinner
  • For a Time
  • Lord Exmouth
  • To the Stones
  • Weave Her a Garland
  • Back & Sides
  • Three Ravens
  • Blood on the Hillside
  • Silent Prayer
  • Coming Home
  • Dark Eyed Sailor
The original songs are for the main part inspired by places that the artists love and the associated stories  This anchors them to the chosen traditional songs. If there were to be a critical counterpoint it is that some of the stand-outs that punctuated 'While The Blackthorn Burns' such as  Mother, whilst all present and correct, need more seeking and attention this time out. That I even feel the need to mention this is a situation quite enviable.
One of my bugbears is LPs that don't contain lyric information. Ninebarrow have gone beyond that here by making a Songbook freely available on-line - this includes both the lyric and also information about the inspiration and stories behind the songs.

I became aware of Ninebarrow not through recorded music and my biggest recommendation of all is to see the duo play live. Here is a slightly unusual slant on that taken from the hundreds of wonderful acoustic sessions that are most often recorded by Jon Earl in his remarkable garden shed in north Somerset - Songs From The Shed.

This is 'The Sea' and "The Shed on Tour" at its temporary home at Larmer Tree Festival, North Dorset, in 2014.

In the Songs From The Shed archive you may discover a cornucopia of music that you had not yet realised quite existed, or  existed but not quite in the form in which it appears here. 

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