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FALSE LIGHTS - Harmonograph

FALSE LIGHTS - Harmonograph
Wreckord Label  FL003

As soon as Jim Moray and Sam Carter linked up and plugged in, it was plain that their band, False Lights, should be capable of delivering something special in the often derided genre of folk-rock. Their first album, Salvor, was good, but it hinted that the group, which also includes Tom Moore (violin), Archie Churchill-Moss (melodeon), Barnaby Stradling (bass) and Stuart Provan (drums), was merely scratching the surface. With Harmonograph, they nail it. It is not pitching it too high to call this a potential folk-rock classic.

With the two principals trading musical ideas, there is never any shortage of invention. Carter's established enthusiasm for Southern harmony is an important part of the mix, whilst Moray is back to his very best, which is very close to irresistible.

It is extremely difficult to pick highlights, so consistently do they hit the target. Moray's new tune for Black Velvet Band, which apparently came to him fully-formed whilst he was driving, is a beauty, whilst they also breathe new life into one of Nic Jones' less well-known traditional songs, William Glenn. Murder In The Red Barn is equally effective, set to two Shapenote hymn tunes, but perhaps the best of all is the last track, a euphoric Drink Old England Dry. It's a fitting finale to a major piece of work.

In the background, Stradling's work on the bass, informed by his familiarity with dub, is something you would not necessarily expect; it is best treated as an enjoyable bonus - another way of bringing the music they love to a new audience.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.