“A turning point both musically and personally” indicates a significant moment for Oka Vanga. Similarly described as a metaphor for survival, Dance Of The Copper Trail presents a set of songs which are based on faith, superstition, loss, love, death and everlasting hope. At least it’s not everlasting love, which may have had listeners breaking out into a sweat over the thought of a folk roots cover of The Love Affairs late sixties classic.
Their USP - “bound by folklore, lit by magic and rooted in stories from journeys far and wide” - and the seductive call of the burnt amber glow of the album cover promises a deep and rich experience.
It finds the usual combo of Angela Meyer and William Cox supplemented by Oliver Copeland’s double bass and the violin of Patsy Reid. From the ancient superstitions which fuel the brooding opener The Wicken Tree all the way through to the lively busking feel in their rearrangement of the gospel This Train, there’s another fascinating journey on the Oka Vanga wagon.
In what could be seen as either relying on the safety net of such a well known traditional song or taking a chance to do something different with She Moved Through The Fair, they offer a bold take on a song that has a rich and established heritage. There’s also a co-write on the instrumental Don’t Let The Clouds Roll In where they revert to their instrumental days, otherwise all songs come courtesy of Meyer.
She finds some mileage with a well-known maverick woman raising hell on the high seas in the tale of Annie Bonnie. The seafaring nature inspiring some Phil Beer style fiddling as Annie, through Meyer, rides the Devil tide with the Devil inside.
Variety abounds, with jazzy inflections conjuring images of strolling down Bourbon Street plus the down-to-earth reality shift in the subjects of local industry and the more refined moments in Rose Of The Hill.
Following on from their award-winning instrumental album Pilgrim, and the fascinating Tales Of Eyam EP, where they dipped their toes into the vocal waters, Dance Of The Copper Trail continues the progression for Oka Vanga, which is developing into a fascinating journey. One which will leave listeners eagerly devouring their latest stop whilst awaiting their next leg of the trail.Mike Ainscoe
Released by Crazy Bird Records on 31 March 2017.
Co-produced by Mark Tucker and Angela Meyer.
1. The Wicken Tree
3. Ashes To The Wind
4. She Moved Through The Fair
5. Don’t Let The Clouds Roll In
6. The Devil’s Tide
7. Song Of The River
8. Rose Of The Hill
9. My Sweet Guitar
10. Out Of The Fire
11. This Train