Much is made of folk music moving on, of the need for it to evolve via sonic trysts with indie music, getting groovy via pop and rock machinations, of become more accessible, more commercial. I say forget that and let’s enjoy the genre the way god, or at least Sandy Denny, intended. This single acts as a teaser for forthcoming album The Hollows, and is the sound of medieval music being put through a 60’s folk revival filter. It wanders the same paths as those so deftly danced by the likes of Pentangle, Fairport Convention, Jethro Tull and, more latterly, Loreena McKennitt, and Woebetide Hill exists at the more chilled and drifting end of that spectrum.
It lilts and washes around, the lyrics full of soft, lullaby qualities, the music swaying behind it anchored by gently pulsing bass lines as flutes swirl and gypsy violins waltz elegantly past and the scent of wine and incense seems to hang heavy in the air. It is at once soothing and slightly edgy, beautifully rendered but flecked with darkness, sorrow and memory.
And unlike all the new kids on the folk block who feel that the music needs a new path to strike out along, Kim Thompsett is unashamed, and rightly so, of her explorations into the land’s mythical past, her wanderings through ancient landscapes, her embrace of all things otherworldly. Thankfully, she has the skills to make this sound authentic both lyrically and sonically. Whereas lesser artists exploring the same territory seem to end up with lumpen Lord of The Rings inspired folk rock, or worship at the feet of Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s cartoon paganism, Woebetide Hill sounds part of an on going story, an endless dance, one that started back in the farthest reaches of pre-history and which is still relevant, make that essential, today.