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Furrow Records FURR007

The Furrow Collective is a name you are probably not familiar with, but when you look at its component parts then you will certainly be aware that this band comes with a huge reputation and huge expectations. Emily Portman, Lucy Farrell, Rachel Newton (otherwise known as The Emily Portman Trio) and Alasdair Roberts are all well known and sought after musicians in their own right. Another of the new supergroups? That remains to be seen. What we have here on At Our Next Meeting is a collection of dark, bleak versions of songs from the tradition with a stark, minimal, instrumental backing. All are given a new twist and vocals are shared between them. There is very little by way of vocal harmony, but some superb interlinking of lead vocals and almost spoken word, whilst some of the instrumental backing is simply scary.

Two highlights for me are their interpretation of The Blantyre Explosion (especially the slightly delayed female vocal) and a new slant given to Our Captain Calls, but there’s a lot to appreciate here.

This is a serious collection dealing with some quite dark subjects - not for those of a nervous disposition - but it is ideal for anyone who enjoys a good story told in a dramatic way. Andy Bell must be congratulated on his production, as must Lillias for the design and Chris Saunders for the totally sympathetic photography.

The project has ‘Folk Festival’ written all over it and there are some launch gigs planned which should see At Our Next Meeting sell rather well - but I wouldn’t go expecting it to be a bundle of laughs! What I would expect is a night of quality, innovative material by four quality musicians.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 100 of The Living Tradition magazine.