What do you get if you cross a guitar, a violin and a clarinet? A super-talented young Midlands trio by the name of Threaded, is what. Classically trained, with an ear for folk music, this threesome really tweak the nose of categorisation. Threaded genuinely don’t sound like anyone else.
Of What We Spoke is Threaded’s first album, recorded live in the studio over just two days, and it displays deep musical sensibility. The arrangements and harmonies are delightfully, thoughtfully constructed, but with a playfulness and lightness of touch, too.
Opening track, The New Living Room starts like a long-lost 1970s children’s tv theme tune before flowering into a joyous tumbling, looping romp. Captain Markham is a gorgeous, violin-led whirling dervish while Flat 71 rollicks along, its minor twists lending it an eastern flavour. The Spanish-style guitar of The Courtyard is backed by a woozy clarinet and subtle, eerie violin, almost fading away before bouncing back with a perky clarinet motif in the coda. Return to Penpole Wood plays aural games with the different rhythms and moods of rain.
Two of the sets, Mr & Mrs Jones and Crosse/Parrack, are wedding songs, written for friends or family. In the first, clarinet and yearning violin wind around delicate guitar patterns, where the second becomes a chugging runaway train, the bubbly clarinet refrain echoed by the violin over an insistent percussive guitar.
Of the songs, Left Off and Dreamfire are attractive, delicate melodies quite lifted by the instrumental and vocal arrangements. Harmonies are tight, voices clear and clean. The purity of Rosie Botts’ (clarinet) and Ning Ning Li’s (violin) voices add an ethereal balance to the earthier tones of Jamie Rutherford (guitar/banjo), who also seems to take a lead role in composition.
Drafted is a cleverly-constructed piece, where lonesome banjo and scratchy violin provide melancholy counterpoints to a plaintive appeal against going off to war. The final verse is sung lower, shifting the emphasis from pleading fearfulness to a world-weary sadness. Robert Browning’s well-loved poem Pied Piper of Hamelin, here sensitively abridged into the song A Secret Charm, keeps the spirit of the original in an imaginative adaptation.
Finally, album closer, You Will Always Be The One is a gem of letting go and remembering, set against glorious tight harmonies and a rolling hillbilly guitar. The lonesome cowboy rides off across the wide open plains into the sunset: fade to black.
Threaded’s entirely self-composed album blends contemporary singer-songwriter compositions with traditional styles. Care has gone into balancing the album’s mix of instrumentals and songs, making sure each member gets to shine individually as well as part of the group. While the clarinet may be under-represented in popular music, its distinctive warm and sinuous tones here, alongside violin and guitar, creates a unique blend that’s very pleasing on the ear. Of What We Spoke is a hugely promising beginning and makes Threaded a band to keep a close eye on in future.Su O’Brien
Released on 12 November, 2015
1. The New Living Room
2. Left Off
3. Captain Markham
4. A Secret Charm
6. Mr & Mrs Jones
8. The Courtyard
9. Flat 71
10. Return To Penpole Wood
11. Crosse / Parrack
12. You Will Always Be The One