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This Old River - Jacob & Drinkwater (20/03/19)

Jacob and drinkwater - this old river.jpg
  • Artist: Jacob & Drinkwater

  • Release date: 20th March, 2019

  • Genre: Folk

  • Record Label: Polyphonic Life Recordings

  • Tracks: 10

  • Website:

Jacob & Drinkwater are singer songwriter Tobias ben Jacob & multi instrumentalist and much in-demand double bass player Lukas Drinkwater. The UK based alt folk duo have been gathering momentum since they first appeared in 2014, with their very first performance together at the legendary Glastonbury Festival.

Their excellent debut studio album ‘This Old River’ was recorded at Lukas’ studio Polyphonic Recording in Stroud, Gloucestershire. It marks a recording milestone for the duo, as it’s their first ‘in-house’ production with the duo self recording, producing and with Lukas undertaking the mixing. Mastering was completed by Ian Stephenson.

The album has the same high level quality hallmarks of their previous releases. Strong, thoughtful and reflective songwriting, great arrangements & musicianship coupled with strong rich vocals and harmonies. Tobias has often described his writing as ‘distilled life experience’ and a form of ‘soul cartography.’ All the songs on the new album are written by Tobias (except the traditional song ‘Nottamun Town’) and arranged by Lukas.

Tobias and Lukas also comment about ‘This Old River; ‘The album takes the listener on a journey through a subtle emotional landscape peppered with arcadian images, themes of love and fragility, and stream of consciousness style lyrical moments.”

The album opens with ‘Song Of The Sun’ painting a rich soundscape of the rising of the sun. “The light pours in upon our golden slumbers. Where the starry dreamers all awake. The forest whispers all its secret numbers. Counting on the morning to break and the song of the sun will sing us into life.” The title track ‘This Old River’ is an ode to the memory of Tobias’ grandfather ‘Eric The Red’, his youth in the Cuerdale Valley near Preston and his love of his native Lancashire. “Nineteen-thirty-four Sir Alan Cobham’s flying circus came to Walton-le-Dale. Up on Cuerdale Hill you’d see the pilots faces as the planes went zooming by in the blue summer sky. The skyline was dotted with smoky mill chimneys up on New Hall Lane. They’d say if you can’t see Pendle Hill that means it’s going to rain. The whole town was built on the boom back when cotton was king. Our poor ancestors toiled at the loom, their poverty was a terrible thing. And this old river running through it all. I love to come back down here just to watch it roll through the years.”

I love the tender and thoughtful ‘Real Love’ with Tobias’ quality songwriting again coming to the fore. “I’ll treat you right no matter what you heard. I’ll be someone you can believe in. In the naked light Oh my word. Tell me i’m not dreaming. I don’t know why I’m so complicated. But please stay by me even when my light is fading. Real love I’m dying to know. Real love if you feel it. Real love hearts that glow. Real love to believe it”

One of my favourite songs of the album is the wonderful and atmospheric percussive bass driven track ‘There’s A Shadow On The Sun’, inspired by reading first hand accounts of life in war torn Syria. It has a lovely rich soundtrack feel about it.

Alongside nine original songs the album includes an ethereal and haunting take on traditional folk song ‘Nottamun Town’. They first heardthe song on Fairport Convention’s classic album ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’. The melody was also the inspiration for Dylan’s ‘Masters Of War’. The duo have also added two dark, brooding verses inspired in part by recent historical TV drama ‘Vikings’. ‘Imagined Letter #44’ is Tobias’ ode to love and London life.

The thoughtful and retrospective ‘Higher Love’ is classic Tobias songwriting. “We will rise with the morning sun. The battles that we should’ve won. A note from another time ‘Hello I’m doing fine’. Written on the other side all the wounds that you could’t hide.” The unusual ‘Iridescent Light’ starts a little prog folk almost Monty Python then explodes into a bright, optimism track. Simple innocent contentment sharing Arcadian days.

With it’s beautiful Spanish-feel acoustic guitar solo, the reflective and gentle Beatleque ‘Polaroid’ drifts wonderfully along. “A photograph of Helena and me taken on holiday by the sea. It says ‘hello I wanted you to know the song you wrote it helped me out when I was low’. I dreamed of a song floating like a prayer. Revealing meaning everywhere.”

The album ends with the topical ‘It’s Still A Beautiful World’. A very strong note of hope in a troubled world. Like a child I build my castles, I listen for the ocean in the shell. Vision after vision flows into my open mind. But i can’t touch the edges of it or bring it into shape and line. I’m just an exile on life’s weary road. In the threadbare garments of a poor wayfarer. A disaffected refugee, I’m just a pilgrim on a highway of diamonds. With hurricanes and softly bowed violins. I’ve got a headful of heaven and a pocket full of heartbreak. Still I’m a rich man for a don’t have to walk through this life alone.”

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