Just as music should only really fall into two categories, good and bad, so band names also have a similar binary existence. There are some great band names, ones that tell you all you need to know before you have even heard the first note, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, Dr Feelgood. Similarly their has been some atrocious ones…Spandau Ballet, Yes, 4 Non Blondes and the ridiculous Does It Offend You Yeah? which is barely even an actual sentence. Faeland sites firmly in the former category, in fact for the music contained within this debut album it is pretty much perfect.
Such a name conjures images of luscious and gentle folk music, music that wanders through the genres traditional themes of love and longing, myth and magic, the existential and the earthly. This Bristolian duo is heir to the likes of Nick Drake and Anne Briggs but theirs is not an exclusively English idyl and the New World sonic threads which also run through the album also evoke people like Joni Mitchell and more modern acts from Bon Iver to the harmonious haze of Sweden’s First Aid Kit.
The simple but effective Prayer Song is a wonderful slice of cosmic Americana, Train wanders down some dusty country tracks and the titular offering is the most wonderful slice of lilting Old World folk. There are nods to the past in The Chantress and To The Green and the wonderfully accessible pop-roots swirl of We’re Just A Love Song shows the way forward as well.
Sometimes keeping it simple makes things more powerful and although the core duo of Rebecca Nelson and Jacob Morrison have surrounded themselves with an impressive cast of musicians, they haven’t lost the art of understatement. As the other players thread majestic harp and emotive clarinet, wandering violin, dark cello washes and much more besides through the songs, each is given space to flourish, explore and gently colour the songs without dominating or showboating.
This is an album of subtleties and understatement, of deftly and lightly woven musical threads and whilst it tips its hat very openly to European folk traditions it is also worldly and often otherworldly. It is probably a bit premature to start compiling top albums of 2018, but ask me again in 12 months time and if this is not way up the list then it will have been an unimaginably spectacular year for music.