For Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin, a new project and band name emerge from the roots of their previous and highly acclaimed work. The duo have lightened and enlightened over three albums and in the live setting with an ever increasing palette of sounds and textures.
From their alt-roots travels comes the continuation of their journey, one that sees a focus on people and places, on transition and change. It’s a theme becoming more commonly addressed and understood; crossing borders, the plight of refugees, travellers and folk at the crossroads - the crossroads notion one that has always been a significant theme in music.
Fate and destiny and the challenges all play a part yet combine in the common theme of the liminal; the fact that we have more in common than what might divide us.
Opening a new chapter of their folk experimentation, there’s a folk-lounge, relaxed and tranquil atmosphere, yet with an element of musical innovation the likes of which make the ears prick up. It challenges too - Edgelarks is not a comfortable journey.
The opener, Landlocked, invokes a tone: “to be born woman is to be born swimming with your hands tied”, while musically Edgelarks delights without ever resorting to catchy gimmicks.
Hypnotic rhythms pulse through No Victory and there’s a gently shuffling sway in the search for signposts and the uncertainty of where the journey is leading.
A musical template that focuses on the minimal, the seven minutes of Undelivered sees Hannah Martin caressing the lyric with an almost improvised and sparse backing. A seemingly autobiographical lyric in Caravan is set against a quivering and haunting ambience that evolves into the ethnic on Song Of The Jay. It’s an approach which starts to take hold as Iceberg picks up the rhythmically absorbing mantle, emphasising the predominantly less is more style.
Among the dozen tracks, What’s The Life Of A Man and Estren are traditional songs given the Henry/Martin treatment. The former taken by Phillip Henry and heading off into a tumbling and rolling bluesy harp-drenched musical journey, the latter following what’s gone before and adding a subtle accompaniment that slowly builds into a spin and a swirl of sound.
Suddenly an hourb has elapsed, one that sees the Edgelarks continuing to soar and fly on their voyage of innovation. Whatever the name, they remain the definitive troubadours - there’s no escaping the roots.Mike Ainscoe
Released on October 6 2017 on Dragonfly Roots.
Recorded May 2017 at Cube Recording, Cornwall.
Produced by Phillip Henry and John Elliott.
2. No Victory
5. Yarl’s Wood
9. Song Of The Jay
11. What’s The Life Of A Man?
12. Good Earth