Edgelarks : Henry Martin

Despite being rocked professionally by the pandemic, Edgelarks' lockdown shows were warm, human and essential - an expression of a profound love of music and of an enduring connection to the folk community, wrought from shared cultural delight.

In the same context, the duo's new album of traditional songs was 'handmade at home' from April to August 2020. It celebrates an authentic communion between artists, tradition and audience with a set of songs that, in Hannah Martin's own words,

" ... look back, to hundreds of years of music making in these islands - but that also look forward to a time when we can overcome the distance that separates us, and raise our voices together once more in song."

Perhaps both more intimate and rougher-edged than a studio recorded album, Henry Martin is striking, heartfelt folk music.

The CD comes with detailed song notes and a short, upbeat essay from Hannah on the recordings' motivation. The music it holds flows as easy as summer should, opening with Greenwood Laddie, a sublime, pared back reading of the Irish ballad - with Phil Henry's electric guitar dancing as it finds the song's groove, offering a bright frame to the doleful longing of Hannah's vocal.

Finding inspiration in the time they had to experiment (listen closely and there is ambient door lock percussion and hand-spun quasi-looping in the mix), Hannah and Phil have taken eight more songs and reworked them with equal inventiveness and joie de vivre.

The understated jaunt of the album's title track, the spare, emotive reading of The Deluded Lover, and the playful backing vocals of the last piece, The Seeds of Love, which evoke the hum of the garden outside the room where it was recorded, all offer high-points.

And, if you want just one standout moment, then it is found with the innate momentum and energy the duo found in Bird in a Cage, the resultant music beatifically soaring and dipping as if utterly unconstrained.

But Henry Martin is an album to relish end-to-end, when the gracefully interwoven instrumentation and vocals undeniably testify that Edgelarks possess a rare and life-affirming sense of musical wonder.

EDGELARKS I Henry Martin