Firefly have been described as" minimalist folk" but with Lightships it would be better to term them at the avant garde edge of the folk scene, making quirky, challenging and innovative music.
With a strong piano element some comparison to Rachel Unthank and the Winterset or O’Hooley and Tidow is inevitable, but the piano seems to have a life of its own, directing the music at times, and sometimes appearing to compete with vocals.
There is a sense of dischord to the music, and the inclusion of some gamelan instruments adds to this sense of unease. Bea Hankey’s voice is strong and intriguing, but has a sense of the otherworldly about it too.
Elements of Lightships use words taken from or inspired by literature - Emily Dickenson and E. E. Cummings to name two. The lyrics are powerful, but at times hard to grasp or pin down.
Most of the album tracks are uncompromising in their bold and stark musical vision. Lady Laurie comes closest in approach to more mainstream folk, but even there rhythms and time signatures conspire to fox the listener.
O Thou sounds in many ways as if it has come direct from a choral music book, filled with lush vocal harmonies and very little instrumentation. But this too provides space for picked guitars and invocations.
Firefly are a challenging band who certainly are not producing easy listening. But there is something hypnotic and musically interesting in their choices of instrumentation and curious compositions.Liz Osman
Self-released on 6th February 2011.
1. I Feel
2. O thou
3. It’s Like
4. Lady Laurie
5. The Slaughter of the Innocents
6. We are Leaves
7. Arthur and the Great Element
8. Little Boat