Marry Waterson has as big a family legacy to carry as anyone in the folk scene today. Her mother Lal, aunt Norma and uncle Mike are all legends of folk, and cousin Eliza Carthy is fast attaining that status too. There will therefore always be enormous scrutiny on anything she does, and Two Wolves is her third studio attempt, after two well received albums with her brother Oliver Knight.
Her partner for this record however, is writer and arranger David A. Jaycock. The two wrote the songs by email and phone, and a clear style is established from the start with the opening track Sing Me Into Your Tune. A lugubrious, reflective ballad, this is a well-constructed song, ably performed by Waterson. Her voice is another part of her family legacy - it would be easy to believe that her late mother were singing on this album.
Lal Waterson’s presence is felt elsewhere, too - The Honey & the Seaweed contains lyrics written by Lal before her death in 1998. Gorgeous lyricism is one of the strongest points of the album, and this song is one of the best.
Woolgathering Girl marks the halfway point of the album, and although it is in itself a beautifully written song, featuring Waterson’s nostalgic vocal and subtle accompaniment, it is similar in tempo, style and mood to the songs preceding it. With half the album still to go the formula, however well it works, is a little too persistent.
The flow is broken in two places, however. Ginger Brown & Apple Green is a gorgeous a capella recording featuring Waterson’s voice backed only with birdsong and other natural sounds, while Velvet Yeller features some vocals from her late uncle Mike’s recording of Tam Lin.
Two Wolves finishes with a reprise of the opening track, Sing Me Into Your Tune, and it seems appropriate that an album with a very persistent style finishes as it began. Ultimately, despite some charming and lovely moments, this album falls short of becoming a classic.Will Wilkins
Released on One Little Indian on 20th November 2015
1. Sing Me Into Your Tune
2. Hoping to Be Saved
3. The Honey & the Seaweed
4. Digging for Diamonds
5. Two Wolves
6. Caught on Coattails
7. Ginger Brown & Apple Green
8. Woolgathering Girl
9. Velvet Yeller
10. Brighter Thinking
11. Teen & the Thief
13. Circa ’73
14. Emotional Vampire
15. Sing Me Into Your Tune (Reprise)