Folk, arguably more than any other genre, is where we find fusion projects most frequently. For decades, centuries even, folk artists have been travelling the world and bringing back with them the sounds of their adventures. If we look to some the biggest contemporary folk artists such as Show of Hands and The Imagined Village, we find that their albums are bristling with, international sounds. It is always a joy listening to a well-executed fusion project, and Iona Lane and Ranjana Ghatak have achieved this wonderfully on their collaborative EP Cove.
The EP features three traditional songs from Britain and Ireland combined with three songs/poems from traditional Hindustani culture, with Lane singing the Western parts and Ghatak performing the Eastern sections, with an occasional section of poised unison singing. The songs are arranged in a loose call & response between Lane and Ghatak and it works beautifully, and the project definitely benefits from its simple instrumentation (vocals and shruti box only). It is a very nice subtle touch to feature a shruti box rather than the Western squeeze box that we are so accustomed to hearing in British folk music.
It is also wonderful to hear an artist of South Asian heritage perform in British folk music. While fusion has long been a feature of folk, it is somewhat rare in fusion music to find an artist of the culture being performed, actually performing it themselves. There is nothing wrong with artists of English/Irish/Scottish background performing in musical traditions of other cultures, but it is so refreshing to have genuine authenticity within a fusion project and it definitely adds to the uniqueness of Cove.
It’s a shame that the project is not longer; it would be wonderful to have seen this sound developed further (even just two or three more songs) and potentially into some more complex fusion instrumentation. The shortness of the EP makes it feel more like a study into this sound world than a complete, rounded project.
Perhaps the goal is to delve deeper in the future, maybe even it’s already in the works (we can only hope) but if it is just these three songs then it may feel like an opportunity missed. This might sound harsh but it is only because what Cove delivers is a subtly gorgeous and thoroughly unique listening experience which is begging to be built upon.Harvey Coates
Released August 4, 2023 on CD and digitally by Hudson Records. Produced by Andy Bell.
1. Vaishnava Jana To / Quiet Joys of Brotherhood
2. Agar Main Panchi Hota / Lark in the Clear Air
3. Surya Pranam / Let No Man Steal Your Thyme