Stephen Cracknell’s English folk collective The Memory Band joined the folk circuit in 2003, gaining a reputation as ones to watch following successful breakout performances at independent festivals such as Green Man and End of the Road.
Their eponymous LP was released in 2004 and followed with Apron Strings two years later in a musical journey that would establish them as a group notable for creating from roots music “[an] English tradition of slightly schizophrenic projects [which point] in several directions at once”.
Oh My Days is the third release from the folk collective who tour with often up to as many as ten members, including Adem Ilhan (Adem), acclaimed folk/electronica artist in his own right. And so in typical tradition; the line up has juggled again for this third helping with a self-defined change being embraced both audibly and visually, and the line up taking a heavy focus on rhythm courtesy of bassist Jon Thorne of Lamb.
From the lamenting melodic strings on ‘Run River Run’ to the pairings of male/female vocals on ‘Electric Light’ as well as the male and female vocal lead interchanges that continue through the record’s length; the Memory Band prove their ability to create beautiful folk still in abundance. While accordion number ‘Some Things You Just Can’t Hide’, with its clattering cow bell and strengthening percussion thicken their sound for the latter half of the record with inflections of interesting rhythmic sounds there is still, however, a feeling something is falling short.
Stand alone these tracks fall into one of two categories: those that are comprised of a traditional folk construction and those that take these plays with percussion The Memory Band spoke of in light of Oh My Days’ release. There’s just an over riding feeling that these tracks together have little impact as a collection and that like their players (comprised of a variety and many) might take a consistent risk in embracing the change we had expected with this release.
Review by: Melanie McGovern
Listen to the album:
27th – The Green Note, London
11th – Chilled Cider, Worth Matravers, Dorset
Amazon (UK): Oh My Days