I don’t know why I should be surprised that someone from the sun strewn West Coast of America should deliver one of the most authentic sounding folk records of the year so far. It isn’t like music belongs to any one place or people; it’s in the air for any who wish to hear it. King’s Daughters Home For Incurables is nothing less than a love letter to this damp green island, the folk music it has produced and the people who have made it. As a member of the Corner Laughers, Karla has had the perfect excuse to travel the Old World soaking up its traditions and culture, history and quirks, and whilst her main musical vehicle blends these vibes with a myriad of other flavours, here the fingerprint is more identifiable.
This is certainly the music of Western Europe, most probably England and perhaps emanating from a folk club in the dark back room of a pub. It is the sound of past eras of folk music as distilled through the 60’s folk revival, polished and evolved for the 21st century. Tracks such as The Lilac Line bubble over with the joyous pop vibe that comes so naturally to her, Mother of the Future is a distant echo of the primal scream and All Aboard is a simulated train ride using only a piano but mainly the songs fit with more expected folk territory.
These are the pathways wandered by everyone from Shirley Collins, who gets name checked and Martin Newell who appears here, and modern torchbearers Kate Rusby and Sarah McQuaid. That isn’t to say that this is in any way a pastiche or a retrospective glance, this is a homage, a celebration of the genre but one that moves it forward at just the right gentle pace. It is both familiar ground and fertile soil for new growth.
If The Corner Laughers are a high on life, mystical beach party, then this is a back garden musing, probably involving topics such as this year’s runner beans with a strong cup of tea and one eye on the weather. England hasn’t subdued her, it has seduced her and the result is music that is no less brilliant but with the pace and poise that fits the more reserved rural pulse beating at the heart of the songs