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Album of the Month: Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo – ‘Almanac’

6 June, 2011

After the power metal album I recommended last month, I thought I’d go for something completely different this time. My choice: ‘Almanac’ by Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo.

I first discovered this album after looking up the song ‘Pause’, which appears in an altered version on the recent BBC drama ‘The Shadow Line’ (and it’s absolutely perfect for that programme, I have to say). After first listening to that title song, ‘Almanac’ feels a lot more upbeat, but it’s still a decidedly thoughtful album. It is, I suppose, a folk album, but a very modern one, with Barker’s vocals floating over a soundtrack of strings and accordion. The lyrics are simple but poetic – in fact, many of the songs are quite simple, but beautifully put together, and with some wonderfully stirring sections, as in ‘Ropes’ and ‘Openings’.

I don’t really have anything to compare ‘Almanac’ to. This isn’t usually my genre, and whilst I’ve listened to a number of modern folk albums, nothing has grabbed me as memorably as this one. I would call it charming, but that sounds patronising and twee. In fact, disarming might be more appropriate – this is a beautiful album that sucks you in and demands you listen to each and every song. And I highly recommend that you do.

(I want to add a final note of appreciation for the beautiful cover art, here, which is striking and distinctive, without being in-your-face. It’s particularly attractive when you’re usually exposed to metal covers, which aren’t exactly reknowned for their prettiness.)

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