The Furrow Collective
The fourth album from the estimable Furrow Collective celebrates a decade of them playing together with a glory of material and perfectly judged performances. It’s very much a nighttime setting (even released during a full moon), a collection of traditional songs and a bit more – the Schubert song is a definite curve ball – and they set out the stall in the opener, “The Moon Shines Bright,” all gorgeously melodic with some exquisite harmonies from the musicians.
Quite a grouping it is, too, with Emily Portman, Alasdair Roberts, Rachel Newton and Lucy Farrell all returning. Between them, they boast impressive resumes and instrumental skills, as well as their vocal abilities, which come to the fore on “Every Day Is Three,” a New England song, one so full of heartbreak and longing that it seems to drip sad beauty.
The choice of material is outstanding, and every track is a carefully-arranged gem; the members of the quartet complement each other well. Roberts’s reedy voice on the insistent “Are Ye Sleepin Maggie” pairs well with just his guitar and fairly minimal instrumental accompaniment, while “The Wild Wild Berry” benefits from its richer, more atmospheric surroundings.
And the Schubert? It’s “The Hurdy Gurdy Man (Der Leiermann),” a fragile performance that seems to pause to take breath before eevery step in a duet between Farrell and Roberts. It’s neatly done, leading into the acapella, pillowed harmonies of the final track, “Oh Watch The Stars.” And then it’s time to blow out the candles and embrace the night.