‘War Stories’ from Harp and a Monkey - intricate and touching storytelling

(June 13, 2016)

The idiosyncratic sound of Harp and a Monkey is utterly distinctive ... within seconds of hearing, it could be no other band. And each time Messers Jones, Smith and Purdy make another recording their output just seems to get war stories harp and a monkeybetter and better ... their latest outing ‘War Stories’, which releases on 1st July, is without doubt their best to date. The essence of their music is a tapestry of melody-rich innovation, enhancing their intricate and touching storytelling, delivered by classically individual vocals.

From their self-titled debut album in 2011 and a second album, All Life Is Here’ in 2014 the band has become recognised as visionaries of contemporary electric English folk. However, there’s more to it than that. I’ve said before ... new is easy it’s different that’s difficult. Well, these guys continue to make me revise my opinion, as creating ‘different’ appears to be Harp and a Monkey’s stock in trade, because ‘War Stories’ their latest album is like nothing else. The narratives on ‘War Stories’ borrows from personal tales with soundbites from individuals either directly involved in the conflict or affected in some way by just ‘being there’ at the time. There’s a re-working a poem by Rudyard Kipling, a revealing look at the pressure on the postman delivering devastating news and a look at the lasting impact of wounds physical and psychological.

From ‘The Banks Of Green Willow’ and ‘Soldier Soldier’ through ‘Broken Men’ and ‘A Young Trooper Cut Down’ to ‘Ghosts Around The Table’ and ‘Flanders Shore’ this is as fine a piece of individualistic songwriting about the First World War as you are likely to find. Combining reverence of heritage with fearless originality, ‘War Stories’ should become Harp and a Monkey’s most influential album.

Find them here:

Review: Tim Carroll

Click here to return to the Reviews page