The Vagaband “Beautiful World”

Eggsong, 2023

Recalling songs of yesterday and a long time in the making.

Artwork for The Vagaband album "Beautiful World"Do you remember The Vagaband covered The Zombies’ ‘This Will Be Our Year’ to accompany the English national census campaign in 2021? It was included in an EP released in March of that year called ‘White Noise’ and was favourably reviewed on AUK. The song ‘White Noise’ makes a reappearance on the band’s new album ‘Beautiful World.’ However, it has been three years since the height of the pandemic and lockdown. The accompanying birdsong makes a good track sound quite dated. The song begins “Locked down I sit in silence, recalling songs of yesterday.”

Beautiful World’s’ eleven tracks definitely recall songs of yesterday. The sextet fronted by Jose McGill remind you of Fleetwood Mac, The Beautiful South and The Beatles. There’s a new folk song ‘The Pedlar’s Way’ written and sung by Yve Mary Birwood. An ancient traditional folk song ‘The Unquiet Grave’ is set to new accompaniment. There’s widespread and ancient belief that excessive grieving over the dead disturbs their rest. It is easy to believe this version could raise the dead. ‘Tiny Ugly World’ is a punk cover. Now Alice Donut were a cool band but from another time.

This is a pleasant and accomplished collection of songs from without doubt a talented group of musicians. Piano player Gregory Cook has also had a hand in the album’s artwork reminiscent of a Guardian magazine cover. This well-established East Anglian band must be a pleasure to experience live but ‘Beautiful World‘ just doesn’t feel like an album. The songs were recorded over a lengthy period from 2019 to 2021 and might explain why. References to Shakespeare’s Desdemona and King Aurthur’s Avalon also give the songs a very English feel. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s fiddle, dobro and pedal steel but at no point do you think Americana is at the root of this album.


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