The Willows are a five piece band hailing from Cambridge. They write their own material, drawing on the traditions of both sides of the Atlantic. Beneath Our Humble Soil is their first full-length album.
The influence of the British folk tradition is particularly evident in the opening track, Out at Sea, a gentle lament of lost love, set to a variation on the tune to the traditional song The Blacksmith. This, like several other songs, (Moths, Numb,) features a solo female voice.
However, the Willows are a versatile bunch, taking it turns to take the lead (eg Cap in Hand is led by a male voice) but they really are at their best in full harmony.
No folk album would be complete without a murder, and here we have Bella’s Fury, with appropriately angrily strummed guitar, joined by banjo and percussion. Another song, which really should be angry is Worker’s War, about unemployment, but has a surprisingly upbeat “old time” feel to it and features some fine harmony singing.
The Willows can do poignant beautifully: Absent Friends with simple two part harmony; Gone Are the Days, about the end of a relationship, with a soaring fiddle interlude, and a gorgeous canon effect at the end; This Book of Ours is remiscent of the style of Scottish singer-songwriter Karine Polwart.
An album of contrasts, in style and subject matter, fine songwriting and great musicianship.Shelley Rainey
Released on Elk Records, 11 February 2013
1. Out at Sea
2. Bella’s Fury
3. Cap in Hand
4. Absent Friends
5. The Outlaw
6. Worker’s War
7. Gone are the Days
10. This Book of Ours
11. John Harvey