Happy New Year. Before I get to the Best of 2016 blog posts, I wanted to post about the Southern Fold’s debut EP. This blog post has been a long time coming. I have had the mini album/E.P since October last year but haven’t got the chance to blog about it. Well now I am getting to correct that mistake.
I blogged about The Southern Fold in March 2016 before they had officially released any tracks. At that stage i featured a number of originals and covers that were featured on a radio show session. With the release of “A True Ascension from The Wayward Path” though I have something physical to write about. The self-released mini album (it’s longer than an EP by my definition) as we will call it, features six beautiful, haunting songs on themes of love , regret and loss.
Featuring the talents of of Emlyn Holden (Guitar, Vocals), Laura Hand (Vocals), Frieda Freytag (Cello & Piano), Joe Maher (Guitar) and Rob Campbell (Cello & Bass), the Southern Fold have with this release clearly set out their stall as true exponents of the alt-folk genre. This release though fleshes out that self-describes definition.
Opening with the melodic “Death Country”, led by the beautiful harmonising vocals of Emlyn and Laura, the song gradually builds with the addition of cello, sparse guitar and eerie harmonica to an infectious chorus where the voices come beautifully together.
I will abstain from trying to decipher the meaning of the title of the mini-album but there is clear careful emphasis on words in this release. I’m sure every artist considers the words they use carefully but what I mean is that after listening to “Romance in Morphine” a couple of times is that the lyrics, I feel, are designed to take multiple meaning from them. The song with it’s flowing melody of guitar and piano feels like a post-modern murder ballad. It’s everything in this song bar the murder but it feels just as haunting.
The songs on the EP does seem to move between two styles, one defined by melody like “Death Country” and “Brand New Day” and the seeped in atmosphere like “Romance in Morphine” and “Not on My Side/Farther Along”. As someone that is always drawn to melody much more quicker than twords, I fell into the melodic warm sound of “Brand New Day” quite quickly. With a foot-tapin’ guitar led harmony the song is made for enjoying on a sun drenched day.
In a way I am not surprised that the band choose to cover the american folk song “Where did you sleep last night” made famous by a Nirvava cover in 1994. If there ever was a band made for reciting murder ballads, it is the Southern Fold. The band manage to make the words even more more haunting with their simple arrangement and the sombre sounds of the cello haunting the song.
“A True Ascension from the Wayward Path” is a record that sets out the manifesto of the Southern Fold. If you are looking for some haunting, shimmering alt-folk/ americana you have come to the right place. It’s easy to hear that the band have a clearly defined sound and know the music they want to make. While respecting and acknowledging the artists of the past, this E.P. establishes The Southern Fold as a a group who are contributing and innovating a genre that deserves more attention from the wider world. An excellent release with some fine craft in songwriting and arrangement.