Debut album – The Medlars - remains with you and leaves you wanting more(April 21, 2017)
Long have I championed the maxim ‘new is easy – different is difficult’, and still few folk bands come at the genre from somewhere’ different’. All change ... here comes The Medlars ... a seven-piece contemporary folk band with a sound both new and different. There’s an intensity to this idiosyncratic music engendered by strikingly original Jimmy Grayburn compositions, intriguingly attractive arrangements, sparkling instrumentation, acid-sharp observational lyrics, powerful vocals and multi-layered harmonies. Add to that the interplay between banjo, violin, flute, tenor horn and cello and The Medlars have a sound that stands out from the crowd.
There’s a robust rhythmical presence, there’s also a resilient, visceral feel that draws you into the album and holds you there. From the veiled urgency of socio-political observations to all-embracing experience-based narratives ... these songs reside near to where hearts live, which makes it eminently easy to identify with this album. The opening is ‘Heart of a Home’ an ominous, accusative tale about tearing oil out of the earth to replace natural materials with ubiquitous plastic ... complete with a snarl to the vocals to drive home the point. The band changes step with the bucolic tale of ‘Fly the Wheel’ relating a passing world, before ‘The Old Eagle’ arrives with another engaging narrative of rural pursuits and community, coupled to an energetic and instantly memorable tune. On the face of it, the simple pleasantries of a railway journey across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire are encapsulated in the gentle poetry of ‘Last Train’ and yet critical perception remains present, the essentially powerful essence of ‘The Roundhouse’ follows, raising a darker edge once more, while ‘The Crag’ makes for another narrative with meaningful history.
This debut may be short but it remains with you and leaves you wanting more, which by any standard is a fine assessment of a first album.
The Medlars are: Jimmy Grayburn (vocals, banjo) Ribhu Choudhuri (bass, vocals) Charlie Egan (drums, vocals) Suzie McCarthy (violin, vocals) Francesca Picciano Moss (flute, bottle, vocals) Rowan Tinker (mandolin, tenor horn, vocals) and Lucie Trémolières (cello) with guest singer Bella Driessen (on ‘The Old Eagle’).
Review: Tim Carroll