Mandolin Orange “Blindfaller” (Yep Roc, 2016)

mandolin-orange-2016The fifth album from this American duo is, and there is no other word for it, lovely.  They’ve added a band this time out but it’s their playing and singing that dominates, as it should.  There are some lovely fragile harmonies, some lovely mandolin work and the whole album is awash with fine melodies.  A streak of county classicism runs through their work so that you can hear nods to and influences from everyone from the Carter Family to Emmylou Harris.

The pace is slow, occasionally mournful (but never downhearted) and there is a quiet intensity to the performances that’s gripping.  It’s good too to see the political notes on “Wildfire”, which takes the Civil War as a starting point, and “Gospel Shoes”, which covers dubious politicians.  But the heart of the duo’s music remains the personal and emotional tale, the subtle and understated playing and the song that creeps into your consciousness and takes up long term residence.  A light dusting of bluegrass picking keeps things fresh and this is one of those albums that is destined to become a perennial favourite, ahead of more-feted releases from others.

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