You Are Wolf – ‘KELD’ reviewed

This wonderful waterfall of weathered weavings is one of 2018’s best releases yet.

It’s a bold claim that KELD plays with the same medieval majesty that Selling England By The Pound features, but it’s a justified one. An album that sings to the barren bodies that once composed waterfall banshees, killer female water sprites and powerful witches, KELD is a love letter to the Northern English songs of long ago.

Much like the Genesis opus, there are many genres at play here, lyrically pointing to the past, while continuing a musical artistry to the sounds of the twenty-first century. Fronted by Kerry Andrew, You Are Wolf are a trio that interweave the folk ballads of yore with the delicacy of sensual touch, the contributions of multi-instrumentalist Sam Hall and percussionist Peter Ashwel as integral to the project as Andrew’s heavenly voice.

Heavenly is an adjective used commonly in the world of singers, but in Andrew’s case, it’s justified. She sings The Baffled Knight largely a cappela, every note her players play is predicated by the power of her voice. And she is powerful, calling her nursery rhyme with chimes so feyfully. This is an album that talks of an ever-flowing river, the collages of rivers both Irish and Scottish add to the Celtic rhymes Breathe In Breathe Out comfortably wears. Down In The Willow Garden furthers this theme; there is a welcome touch of Yeats’ Sally Gardens here, as powerful now as W.B.’s words were in 1889.

Witch of The Westmerlands bellows in a march, Ashwel’s drums prominent to the melody; few songs since Biko (Peter Gabriel) have used a drum sound this effectively, harrowed and vast, but staid and sensual. The album continues in communal caterings with a recording of women and girls of Chaidha Village, India, singing by the Ganges. It’s a wonderful waterfall of weathered weavings.

Paris based producer MaJiker (Camille, Erica Mou) brings hypnotic loops to the potent George Collins, a Ralph McTell type ballad contextualised in 2018 with the sounds of electronica, distinctly English in lyric, European in design. Dragonfly wouldn’t sound unwelcome on an XX record, laconic lollardy at its liveliest. Drowndown leaves the mediaeval aesthetic for sounds both Yorke and Godrich; terrific Radiohead sounds signing the listener. As with the best of prog, this is not an easy album to pigeon-hole.

Photo credit: Urszula Soltys.

This placid poetic pioneering plays peacefully through the voice of guest poet Robin Robertson, who warns listeners of an ominous outlay on Let Them Be Left, while Lisa Knapp (who sings on The Weeper) brings esotericism of the celestial kind in vocals reminiscent of Annie Lennox and Enya’s journeys to Middle Earth. The rest of the vocals are primarily to Andrew’s credit, she a four-time British Composer Awards recipient.

The album only features one bum track, Charm, a folk-prog track that plays with the pretentious, in each and every one of the wrong ways. Skip it. The rest of the album is as good as any would like from an alt-folk album, artful, plaintive, medieval and modern. One of best releases yet in 2018.

You Are Wolf – “KELD”  released via Firecrest Records on 23 March 2018 distributed by Proper Music. Click here to order.

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 Eoghan Lyng is a writer, part-time English teacher and full-time lover of life. 

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