When not busy fronting Polly and the Billets Doux, Polly Perry also heads up Provincials, a dark folk acoustic trio, alongside author-guitarist Seb Hunter and improvisational pianist Steve Gibson.
Having released their debut album, Muhzik, earlier this year, they’ve come over all festive and produced this Christmas season offering – When The Light Changes.
Adopting a rather more melodic approach than that of the, shall we say, challenging, album, this four track EP (on which they’re also joined by Dan Parkinson on organ) still foregrounds their otherworldly, minimalist sound and style, opening with the glissando guitar of White with Waving Goodbye, Perry slipping up and down the scales on a song about her grandparents as Gibson wades in with some sonorous chords midway. 12 Days is a part sung/part spoken duet between her and Hunter, a sort of bitter-coated, fractured and fragile, exposed nerves reimagining of Fairytale of New York.
The title track, complete with the icy tinkle of sleigh bells, is a suitably cold, atonal and angular piece, but does actually mention angels and snow before heading into its own bleak midwinter, the disc ending with a cover of Big Star’s carols-referencing Jesus Christ which, while a little low on the original’s jubilant jangle, does mine some notes of joy in the cascading chorus line. Unlikely to supplant Shane and Kirsty as the nation’s Yuletide favourite, but an intriguing alternative to the emotional manipulation of John Lewis, et al.
Review by: Mike Davies