The 10th (and final) album from vocal trio Coope Boyes & Simpson, Coda is a combination of wit and rich harmonies, often exploring sensitive but important issues, sticking just the right side of polemical.
Coope Boyes & Simpson have never been ones to shy away from including politics in their songs, and Coda is just the latest entry in a long history of political song writing in folk music. The album gets stuck in from the off, opening with perhaps the fiercest track, Avenging Angel.
It’s an unapologetic swipe at western interventions in the middle east. The melodies and harmonies are, in of themselves, stirring, an effect which is only compounded by the vivid, biting imagery of the lyrics. However you feel about the subject matter, it’s very easy to get swept up in their righteous anger against the injustice of war in general.
On the other end of the scale is PET Song. It’s a much more light-hearted, jovial take on a still serious issue, in this case waste and landfill. It’s the same wit as seen in Avenging Angel, but presented in a much gentler way, highlighting the absurdity of the situation rather than the evils.
The variety of tone is welcome, and generally speaking Coda strikes a nice balance, never becoming browbeating or overly flippant, interspersing traditional ballads amongst its call for action. If We Were Them edges dangerously close to preachy, but the vocals of Coope Boyes & Simpson are such a joy to listen to, one doesn’t mind so much if the lyrics sometimes lack in subtlety.
Other highlights include Frida Kahlo’s Visit to the Taybridge Bar, a cover of Michael Marra’s wondrously surreal song, and The Bright Ploughshare, a sonorous picture of rural idyll with a bitter-sweet ending.
If Coope Boyes & Simpson truly wish to draw a line under their collaboration, Coda is a fine way to do it. They will, fortunately be touring through 2017, so if you appreciate a capella (and if not, Coda could well convert you) make sure you see them while you still can.James Motteram
Released on No Masters on 30 September 2016.
1. The Avenging Angel
2. Bound by the Fishing
3. From Hereabout Hill / May Song
4. Napoleon’s Dream
5. Frida Kahlo’s Visit to the Taybridge Bar
6. Drover’s Way
7. If We Were Them
8. Flandyke Shore
9. The Bright Ploughshare
10. PET Song
11. Twilight Hunter
12. The Man That I Am
13. Children of Palestine
14. Nothing Gold
15. Anthem for a Planet’s Children