Molly Evans – Deep Time and Narrow Space
Self Released – Out Now
Although the title may sound a bit sci-fi, the EP Deep Time and Narrow Space could not be more different. It is a finely balanced and unique collection of six tracks by Molly Evans (who recently featured on Folk Radio UK’s Folk Show) putting Alan Garner’s poetry and folk tales to music that is faithful to both their Cheshire roots and traditional oral and music culture. ‘Time’ is the past, and ‘Space’ could be said to refer to the small canvas portrayed in each song. A pastoral landscape is depicted, with characters speaking in their true vernacular, emphasised by Evan’s singing in her own accent, with a nod to the faeries and creatures typical of traditional English folklore.
Molly Evans’ voice is both poignant and soothing, clear and confident and unpretentious in the tradition of Ewan McColl and his disciples. She has created melodies that accompany the lyrics with a wonderful old world traditional feel and modern well-balanced cadence. She uses repetition and often a chorus to give a constant and everlasting feel to the lyrics.
Collaborators on the album are musicians Jack Rutter on guitar, bouzouki, banjo, duet concertina, and Archie Churchill-Moss on melodeon and producer Andy Bell (The Furrow Collective, Jon Boden, Fay Hield, Andy Cutting, Eliza Carthy).
Woe is Me is not as maudlin or sad/ tragic as it suggests, but rather a lament over the paucity of good men, in a moderately paced and surprisingly upbeat melody. Repetition of the title throughout gives it a balanced and rousing feel, with reference to acorns, trees, briars and cradles, so lots of symbolism and mystery.
Mist adds variety to the album with a gypsy kind of East European rhythm and tune that is then loaded with references to all things pastoral, with the ever reliable seasons at its core. While Maggoty’s Wood slows the pace with slight pauses enhancing that eerie feel. There’s a beautiful softness embodied in the instrumental accompaniment, and the bouzouki adds another dimension as a mystical backdrop to her voice. This has a strange and interesting mix of modern and traditional, and could easily have been a title track.
Bryer and Bonfire is a wonderful monologue by a character, ‘Robin Good-fellow’, as he works through the night breaking hemp. His vernacular is beautifully adapted to Molly’s voice and the melody suits the rhythm of his work and celebration of nature with references to thatch, bonfires, strawberry wire and columbine.
Yallery Brown has a lovely conversational feel to it, expressed in dialect with real poignancy and a bit of fatalism as it describes the hard work and life of the people of the Lincolnshire fenlands. The melody here gives Evan’s the chance to showcase the depth and richness of her voice.
The final song, Gobbleknoll, is a ‘universal’ story by Garner, based on a Sioux legend, but set in Cheshire with references celebrating the strong oral tradition in the dialect of his own family. The melody enhances both the storytelling aspect and the celebratory nature of the chorus. The instrumental interludes are beautifully woven into the song for light relief and to act as a kind of echo as the story unfolds.
Ultimately, the collaboration of Garner’s tales and Evans’ music is a real treat. She writes to suit the strengths of her voice perfectly, it is charming and lyrical, and the accompanying instruments add to the pace and depth of each piece without getting in the way of her beautiful clear voice or the lyrics. A well-crafted and well-balanced release; a real delight.
Order it now via Bandcamp (CD/Digital): https://mollymakesnoise.bandcamp.com/album/deep-time-and-narrow-space
Upcoming dates include The Royal, Dungworth, Sheffield, with Jack Rutter on 16 Sept, Hartlepool Folk Festival on 15 Oct and English Folk Expo on 20 Oct.
More details here: https://www.mollyevansmusic.com/