Following the success of their EP, The Foxglove Trio are back with a full length album: These Gathered Branches. Cathy Mason, Ffion Mair and Patrick Dean have gathered material from traditional song collections and contemporary artists to produce a well thought out - and often curious - set of tracks.
There is a continued focus on English and Welsh song with material being drawn predominantly from the home towns of each of the artists. We are even treated to a couple of songs sung in Welsh, giving the album an authentic, personal touch. Indeed, song appears to be the main focus of the album, with vocals very much at the forefront of the arrangements.
The musicians work very well together with Cathy’s classical cello training complementing Ffion’s singing style - with clear diction and a sweet vocal colour - beautifully. Patrick uses the melodeon to provide everything from drones, to tunes and detailed arrangements along with the cello. All three are, however, fine multi-instrumentalists, confident in working with both instruments and vocals to compose fitting melodies and arrangements for their unique song choices.
The album includes songs about criminality, estrangement, pit disasters and riots, amongst others. Safe to say it’s not the jolliest of albums; but the standard of storytelling (through song and instrumental) and the trio’s decision to present to the listener such important (and in some cases, forgotten) tales of disaster and loss is admirable. Fortunately, we do meet three foolish Welsh men off ’a-hunting’ (in The Three Huntsmen) along the way - which helps to lighten the tone a little.
Stars and Bells stands out on the album. The trio perform a traditional and contemporary song together, arranging it so as to demonstrate the relationship between old and new songs. The song is exquisitely executed by exploring the possible interweaving of vocal lines and harmonies against a simple but effective instrumental backdrop.
These Gathered Branches: a thoroughly enjoyable album which engages the listener using some interesting and thought-provoking tales. An intelligent and powerful album.Rebekah Foard
Self-released on 20 April 2015
1. Mr and Mrs
2. The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield
3. Selar Hill
4. James Snooks
5. Colli Llanwddyn
6. The Three Huntsmen
7. Stars and Bells
8. Daughter of Megan
9. Lliw Gwyn Rhosyn yr Haf
10. The Pit Boy
11. The Owlesbury Lads
12. Farewell to Fiunary