Reviewing new music from Bridie Jackson and the Arbour isn’t like reviewing most other CDs that drop through the letterbox. There is an intimacy to their style that connects with the listener in such a way that it seems like a letter from a long lost lover, something private, not to be shared or discussed, something to be quietly contemplated and for your eyes…well ears, only. But then another part of you wants to shout from the rooftops and tell the world about it.
It is their ability to create lusciously delicate, shimmering music out of almost nothing that is at the heart of this intimacy, to weave just enough musical threads around an atmosphere or emotion to hold it in place without swamping its emotive qualities. Multiple strands of vocals, delicate piano lines, string washes and distant percussion all tether the songs to the here and now but often the simplicity of the overall effect is such that the band sound like they are channelling music that is timeless, primal even. The sound of music before it was a commodity, when it was still part of the natural world.
Although based in a fragile folk sound, existing genres almost cease to apply to such music and although everything from gospel to baroque, pop to blues seem to leave their mark, none comes close to defining the whole. It is also an album of contradictions as tales of woe are pinned to inspiring music or positive lyrics are hemmed in by stark, brooding undertones. It is the sound of Bridie Jackson and The Arbour doing what few bands are able to do, be wholly original without the need to try to push new musical boundaries or clumsily fuse music styles. Instead they take timeless, familiar musical building blocks, strip them back to their essential core and arrange them in gossamer thin tapestries. Ironically it is this very approach that sees them fashion a whole new musical dream-folk genre along the way.