Thursday, January 21, 2010

NoLand Folk - Ghosts Light The Scene

NoLand Folk
‘Ghosts Light The Scene’
(Brown Slipper Music)
CLARE based band - and regulars on the local Limerick scene, where some of their line-up have been based - recently released their second album, the follow-up to the well regarded 2007 debut, Never Going Home.
Where that record was a troubadour folk affair, following some changes in line-up, NoLand Folk have produced a much more rounded and deep offering on ‘Ghosts Light The Scene’ - primarily owing to their decision to mix-in the use of electric instruments in this case. This is a diverse offering - a ten-track album that regularly surprises on repeated listens, mixing elements of Nick Cave, the gloom of Tom Waits, torch vocals and delicate orchestration.
The upbeat but subversive Devil for Tea is the most vaudevillian offering on the album, set more in the realm of that more theatrical local band, The Brad Pitt Light Orchestra. The much darker Barefoot and Pregnant, with its weighty tone, shows the depth of this band, “the truth is not great / it is setting you free”, set against the simple tones of a violin and piano accordion, while a subtle electric guitar part builds as the songs grows - the first use of an electric guitar coming halfway through the album.
The jazzy swing of Looking Down The Barrel is in sharp contrast to this, the upbeat tone and sloping vocals reminiscent of something Tarantino might include on one of his soundtracks - it comes as no surprise to learn that it is Mick Harvey’s (of the Bad Seeds) tribute to Serge Gainsbourg. I Wanna See You Dancing is a jaunty, sultry affair with shimmering guitars but it is the titular tracks on this album that are the real highlights.
The album is bookended by the sister tracks of Ghosts Light The Scene - Ghosts End The Scene. The opening track is a dramatic one, complete with haunting violins, read from the pages of Nick Caves’ songbook, and the closing track on the album picks up where that ended. The first minute of the Ghosts Ends the Scene ends as the first began, but soon tapers off into a different song, beginning with just a guitar and vocal and violin - “she used to tug my heart strings with a mournful cello” - and progresses with back and forth male/female vocals, before ending with swelling four part harmonies, before ending suddenly and surprisingly.
Slight production notes aside, you will do well to find a more impressive modern folk album than this releasing in the near future. Keep an eye on this band. We will be.

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