Merrymouth - Wenlock Hill

2014 studio album

Wenlock Hill - Merrymouth

the bright young folk review

Wenlock Hill: eleven folk inspired tracks and the latest release from trio Merrymouth. Simon Fowler, Dan Sealey and Adam Barry are all well-established musicians in their own rights and bring to the album a wealth of experience and influence, giving it a unique feel whilst reflecting the success of each musician’s individual endeavours.

The group promotes a polished blend of vocals, guitar and keyboard, but the contribution of a whole host of superb musicians allows for a real variety of arrangements: John McCusker (Violin), Chas Hodges (Piano), Catherine Harper (Cello), Andy Derrick (Trombone), Hugh Thomas (Clarinet), Anthony Jones (Muted Trumpet) and Nick Lyndon (Double Bass). Such an array of instruments ensures real diversity throughout the album, allowing for both powerful, energetic numbers and those a little more melancholic.

The whole album takes on a very distinct sound. Described as ’folk-orientated’ - there is a clear traditional flavour to the music and yet each track hints at a range of other genres such as Britpop and Rock. In a similar sense, the band’s interpretation of I Am The Resurrection by The Stone Roses is a little more ’folky’ than many would remember.

Wenlock Hill with its range of musical landscapes also boasts an impressive and interesting array of themes and song subjects. For example, He Was A Friend Of Mine, is an original composition written about John Lennon’s death while Wenlock Hill is based on the series of poems ’A Shropshire Lad’ by A E Houseman. This inevitably means that the album varies in tempo throughout - some tracks are real toe-tappers and celebrate the admirable versatility of the trio as musicians, composers and arrangers.

For those who enjoy a simple refrain to join in with, it is perhaps an album a little tricky to sing along with. However, there is always something to be said for music which delivers beautiful arrangements and unusual melodies and harmonies. And while the album generally steers away from the very traditional, the album’s charm is definitely to be found in the individual character, feel and sound of each track. With the chink of spoons in tea cups and tweeting birds adding real personality, the trio’s creativity makes for an interesting listen.

Wenlock Hill: an album which must be heard to fully appreciate the range of style and influence. With fine musicianship, undeniable experience and already with exciting musical CVs, Merrymouth’s latest release is one to seek out.

Rebekah Foard

Released on 5th May 2014 on Navigator Records.

1. Wenlock Hill
2. Salt Breeze
3. Blink Of An Eye
4. Without You
5. I Am The Resurrection
6. That Man
7. Teashop Serenade
8. Duchess
9. He Was A Friend Of Mine
10. If You Follow
11. The Ragged Spiral

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John McCusker