“Had this arrived in a vinyl format we would not be surprised to see a small palm tree on a grassy island decorating the label. Crooked Weather, a Yorkshire based duo, are unashamedly influenced by the folk rock sounds of the late sixties and early seventies as purveyed back then by the likes of the Island, Harvest and Transatlantic Record labels. As such, they can be compared (slightly) to the Pentangle family, John & Beverly Martyn and Michael Chapman along with some American contemporaries. However, much like, for example, Doghouse Roses, they don’t attempt to recreate their forebears’ sounds but use their influence as a starting point for their own singular music.
Will Bladen and Holly Blackshaw are the core of the band and their voices and harmonies are at the core of the music – Bladen kind of husky while Blackshaw is more elemental. The vocals actually have a whiff of San Francisco psychedelia about them, think of early Jefferson Airplane or It’s A Beautiful Day. Backed by a versatile rhythm section (Tom Skelly and Dave Tomlison) along with producer Rob Burgess on various instruments and cellist Beth Nicholson their songs range from dappled bucolic rhymes such as ‘Rabbit Holes’ to what they call “powerstation folk” (a terrible term we reckon) on the closing epic ‘Easy’. The opening ‘Slieve League’ with its woody cello and occasional electronics could easily sit within freak folk frontiers while ‘Hare On The Mountains‘ is as traditional as they get on a song which is a ballad in its lyric style while the instrumentation has that loose limbed jazzy take on folk which Pentangle pioneered.
Aside from the vocals there is some spirited guitar playing as on the sparkling ‘Stoney Bay Blues’ which is speckled with excellent finger picking. The gloomy spiritual mutant which is ‘Jerusalem’ glowers with the guitars dipping into country blues creating an appropriate atmosphere. The closing song, ‘Easy’, is a bit of a tour de force as electric guitar squalls join in the thrusting drive of a song which is truly reminiscent of Jefferson Airplane in their pomp. Overall, it’s a fine album which admittedly doffs its cap to the past but is quite thrilling overall.
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