‘His Pride. No Spear. No Friend’ - The Owl Service - liberal doses of innovation and invention(January 25, 2016)
From the early EPs ‘Wake the Vaulted Echo’ and ‘Rise Me Lads’ to the albums, ‘A Garland of Song’ and ‘The View From a Hill’, there has always been something slightly otherworldly and ethereal about those proponents of English pysch-folk The Owl Service. After an extended creative pause, there’s now a new album, ‘His Pride. No Spear. No Friend’. Although it’s clearly traditional in much of its material, they have travelled some distance from a traditional approach. Along that journey any anticipated familiarity from The Owl Service has morphed into a new and different sound.
‘His Pride. No Spear. No Friend’ includes songs from the collections of Steve Roud and Francis Child, plus a couple of covers. The resulting involvement is elements of folk and a soupcon of folk rock both still laced with connotations of psych folk, yet this time with liberal doses of innovation and invention. It’s undeniably British in its soundscape, however that indefinable something that has always set The Owl Service apart not only remains but survives strong and healthy, but different. From their rendition of Robert Burns’ words ‘The Widow’s Lament’ to the ‘The False Knight’, from Ken Saul’s ‘The Skater’ to ‘Geordie’ you enter into their unique world and its best that you allow them to transport you.
Describing this music is ultimately a reflection of interpretation because there are no signposts to follow and that’s an integral part of its allure ... discovering where it’s heading to next. The only real answer is to listen to it ... and I strongly suggest that you do. ‘His Pride. No Spear. No Friend’ is the band’s most accessible and arguably their best work to date.
Find the band and their music here: theowlservice.bandcamp.com
Review: Tim Carroll