Blossom & Fruit is the second album by Tim Jones & The Dark Lanterns; a combination of original songs and unique takes on material from the English tradition.
They’re a band already well established on the London folk scene, having played together in one form or another since 2013. On Blossom & Fruit, the Dark Lanterns add weight to the sonic palette with contributions from Ted Kemp on concertina, Karen Phillips on fiddle, Em Marshall on vocals and guitar, and Robin Timmis on viola.
It’s a line-up that brings a wide range of influences to their playing - from klezmer to psychedelia to Morris tunes - and one that blends and twists traditional melodies and words on an ever evolving and diverse course.
It’s an apt title too; allowing the traditional material to take flight, to grow and blossom whilst at the same time, bearing the gift of new fruit from the Dark Lantern tree.
The title track could be outwardly viewed as a straightforward seasonal song, but not far beneath the surface lie observations on the changing relationships that provide much of the backbone on the album. It’s a theme followed by The Gathering Storm and Alexandra Rose, both of which float along on a melancholic tide of viola and concertina.
Elsewhere, the album turns to darker territory, with London Blitz ballad Candles Out exploring the way that conflict is portrayed compared to the eye-witness accounts of those who live through it, and the opening track, A Calling On Song, deals with issues of disenfranchisement and powerlessness, a topical subject that will be familiar to many. The latter, an understated opening arrangement to begin the album, comes over akin to the folk version of Elbow.
Of the traditional material, the influence of folk legends Peter Bellamy and Bert Jansch creeps through in Polly on The Shore and the intricate picking on Sweet Lemeny.
After warming up on the seafaring Jacky Tar, a ’shanty without words’, they up the ante and, after a quivering intro, literally blast through an exciting gypsy punk Down Among The Dead Men that breathes fresh life into a four hundred year old song.
A bit of something unique too with the (unsubstantiated) claim that Blossom & Fruit also includes the only recorded arrangement of the ballad Stratton Water by Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
The Lily & The Ivy provides a lighter ending; a song for parting sweethearts and the natural opportunity for a singalong if you’re feeling suitably folky. Ultimately, providing an optimistic light at the end of the tunnel.Mike Ainscoe
Released on Cotton Mill Records.
Recorded with Ian Carter at XYZ studios in Hackney Wick.
1. A Calling On Song
2. Polly On The Shore
3. Sweet Lemeny
4. Blossom & Fruit
5. Alexandra Rose
6. Jolly Tar Come Ashore With Your Trousers On
7. Down Among The Dead Men
8. Christina Collins
9. Candles Out
10. The Gathering Storm
11. The Stratton Flood
12. The Lily & The Ivy