, , , ,

I wrote a few days ago about how I had finally solved the mystery of the haunting opening to the radio reading of Henning Mankell's Faceless Killers, this tune turning out to be Nostalgia by Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo.

Loving this song so much, I felt I should explore some more of Emily Barker's music, so I bought – from Emily Barker's website – the album Despite The Snow that contains Nostalgia. (I find myself buying most of my new music directly from artist websites or indie label websites unless I get it secondhand through Amazon – I haven't darkened the door of a record shop for years. That is not how it used to be!)

Even though there is no song as good as Nostalgia on the rest of the album, it's still a fine collection of expressively played melodic and lyrically interesting folk music. Acoustic guitar, cello, violin, accordion with occasional percussion and double bass underpin Ms. Barker's voice. This floats airily over the gentle accompaniment, occasionally augmented by sweet harmony singing.

So where is this music coming from? Everyone brings their own musical knowledge into an appreciation of something new, and here I find echoes of 10,000 Maniacs, Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Sandy Denny, The Cowboy Junkies and even (vocals only) Portishead. Barker plays harmonica just like Neil Young too – and adds a very Neil Youngish wobbly piano accompaniment to Bloated, Blistered, Aching Heart. A good blend and highly congenial. Not startlingly original (in the way that Six Organs of Admittance is – this is folk, not freak folk) but accomplished and heartfelt.

Barker even reveals an impeccable taste in influences by covering Lal Waterson's Bright Phoebus, the transcendentally uplifting title track from a legendary album that has never received a proper CD release to this day. She does a very fine job with it too.

All in all, a very worthy addition to my music collection. One that I will treasure.