Avocet – Borrowed Seed
Mink Records – 23 May 2018
I think that I should come out straight away and say that I love Borrowed Seed, the new EP by Avocet. There. Said it. Hmmm. Now to justify it I suppose.
Well, the first thing that attracted me to it was the opening bars of the opening track, One Thing. The thing is, I don’t usually like harps. Well, that’s not exactly true. I have Alan Stivell’s Renaissance of the Celtic Harp and have had since it first came out. I have also got several other bands that have harps in it. And I have always admired people who can play harps. So, okay, an unjustified prejudice but anyway, the opening bars are from a harp, or in this case, the Celtic harp or clarasch: a tripping down some stairs, someone coming lightly down several flights, a double bass offering a small landing before the next flight. And it is a great hook – I’m in. Then, as if I was going to turn it off, the slightly smoky, terribly enticing voice of Iona Zajaz. I’m lost to it.
So I’m in. It may be modern but the roots of this sound lay far back in time, or at least over half a century. The mix of Sam Grassie’s acoustic guitar and Herbie Loening’s double bass with a female singer leads me to memories of Pentangle and from there to comparisons which I do not wish to make. Usually. However, I am led to such things by the very name Avocet, which is the title of the twelfth album by Bert Jansch. Bert was from Scotland; Avocet (the band) are from Scotland. And clearly, Sam Grassie owes a lot to the style of Bert Jansch. Indeed, their self-description on Facebook says that they draw their inspiration from “both the psychedelic folk scene…in Britain during the 1960’s and 70’s, and free-form blues”
The second track, Causeway, was released as a single back in January. It is lyrical, swaying without the kitsch, the double bass resonating, sending out all those good intense vibes that underpin this music throughout. Sam Grassie’s guitar is an understated star throughout. He doesn’t hold it back but at the same time, it isn’t pushed forward. You just become aware that there is more to the guitar than just the sound. The notes, plucked and pulled at times from the instrument, intricately bind the songs together and there are moments when he comes forward, as towards the end of Riding the Wave. For the great interplay between guitar and singer, listen to the title track, Borrowed Seed I am not sure whether the relationship will become a duel or are they mirroring each other, a complicated version of call-and-response?
Whatever it is, it works well, very well. Listening to the album several times I find I am picking out different sounds, different things each time, building up a rich image to match. But Oh! Over so soon. 6 songs. 21minutes. We need more songs, more minutes. And while we are at it, perhaps more information – most of what there is, is on Facebook. And touring dates. But definitely more songs.
Did I mention that I love this?
Order Borrowed Seed http://smarturl.it/avocetborrowedseed