I must have missed Tarras first time around, despite the fact I was into the Scots Celtic rock scene at the time. I was impressed by the first few bars of track one, nice strings, drum and fiddle which seemed to promise good things, and it did not disappoint. I hope lead singer Ben Murray does not mind me comparing him to Seth Lakeman, but his voice is quite similar, having that melancholy yet youthful quality. That opening track ‘The Joys of Brotherhood’ was performed on Mike Harding’s Radio 2 show last year, and though modern, does have a swipe of those ‘come-all-ye’ agricultural worksongs.
Followed swiftly by their own version of traditional maritime murder ballad, ‘New York Trader’, this has a dramatic, almost sinister delivery as we hear the tale of the wicked captain who confesses his murderous deeds to his bo’sun. The music neatly reflects the action, culminating in a calmer tone as the evil captain is thrown overboard by his terrified crew, and the sea ceases to rave.
The band’s other trad piece ‘The Red Haired Man’s Wife’ was my particular favourite; in comparing it with the Dubliners’ rendition, it is a powerful, passionate plea of the young man to his married ex. The drama in the sound is almost like Steeleye Span’s approach to ballads, a driving, rocky feel making the story all the more attractive. Definitely will be putting that one on the iPod!
‘Windows‘ and ‘Standing‘ just didn’t appeal to me at all, but then, I’m a folkie, and they sounded too much like contemporary chart songs for me. Definitely liked ‘The River Is Dark’, which is the gothic opposite of ‘Red-Haired Man’s Wife’, the cheated lover telling his woman to pack her bags. It occurred to me that the album title ‘Warn the Waters’ could refer to New York Trader and River is Dark – perhaps the sea spirits are warned to expect the arrival of both the murderous seaman and the wicked lover in their depths? If so, that gives the whole album a dark sense of loss, anxiety and confusion.
Taken as a whole, this is likely to be a good return to the scene for the band, as there is appeal for both folkies and the modern post-pop audience. For me this is a good representation of the modern English folk sound, but still shows clear influences of my old favourites, such as Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention.
Review by: Fiona-Jane Brown
Warn the waters is released on Horsefly (via Proper) on June 11th 2012
01 The Joys Of Brotherhood
02 New York Trader
04 Red Haired Man’s Wife
05 Fourth Wheel
08 The Vine
09 She Won’t Wait
10 The River is Dark
Not on album:
Saturday 2nd June 2012 – Ireby Festival
Thursday 14th June 2012 – The Cluny, Ouseburn Warehouse, Lime St, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear. NE1 2PQ
Saturday 16th June 2012 – Pennine Fells Music Weekend, Killhope wheel, The North of England Lead Mining Museum, Upper Weardale, Co Durham, DL13 1AR
Sunday 17 June 2012 – Ravenstonedale festival, High greenside farm, Cumbria, CA17 4LU
Friday 10th August 2012 – Cropredy, Oxfordshire, OX17
Friday 17th August 2012 – Broadstairs Folk Week, Broadstairs, Pierremont Hall, Broadstairs, Kent. CT10 1JX