OVERNIGHT - JOSIENNE CLARKE AND BEN WALKER
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 14th October, 2016.
Genre: Folk, Blues, Jazz and Americana
Band: Josienne Clarke, Ben Walker, John Parker, Kit Downes, James Maddren, Anna jenkins, Jo Silverston, Samantha Whates, Jim Rattigan, Paul Mosley and Heather Ryall.
Record Label: Rough Trade Records
For our next LCM album of the week we continue our review of some of the very strong contenders for BBC Radio 2 Folk album of the year. 'Overnight' is the new 'tour de force' and the 4th studio album from the excellent London duo of Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker. Recently signed to Rough Trade Records and hot off a new EP 'Through The Clouds' released for the US market, 'Overnight' is another superb and high quality album. Josienne is a very high quality vocalist and songwriter, coupled with Ben's super guitar playing, arrangements and production, it makes for something very impressive and magical.
The album's twelve songs ten originals and two covers were recorded almost entirely live at Rockfield Studios in Wales in March 2016 with some extra recording at Ben's Room. The overall theme is the endless cycle of night into day and back again. Actually to call this a pure folk album would serve Josienne and Ben an injustice. It is a wonderful fusion of Folk, Blues, Jazz, Americana and even retro Pop. 'Overnight' has a much more contemporary feel than their previous albums. Josienne and Ben have also employed some world class special guest musicians and this has added extra depth, layers and additional quality to the recording.
With it's gentle electric guitar intro the album begins with 'Nine Times Around', the start of the cycle as dusk moves in a bright dawn morning. The ethereal, floating and reflective 'Something Familiar' is just beautiful and an instant classic. It has almost a light Fleetwood Mac feel at times. 'Reflection at sundown, can make me so sad. For there's no way of keeping the day we've just had"
Ben is just a superb string arranger and guitarist and Josienne is such a great lyricist and vocalist. This is showcased perfectly on the personal and heartfelt 'Sweet The Sorrow'. Lovely interplay between guitar and string section with an almost haunting cello. "Before the final straw, you said. A foot upon the floor, a handle on the door. You were jumping overboard. Before I thought to leave, you'd composed an elegy.....My tale may turn the tide and you might decide....not to leave'. The atmospheric 'Dawn of The Dark' moves us into dusk in the day's cycle. Lovely recorder solo from Josienne too.
The very powerful Americana flavoured 'Dark Turn Of Mind' is a wonderful Gillian Welch cover taken from her 2011 'The Harrow And The Harvest' album. A song with the 'wow' factor especially live, it has a very dark theme. It is about recovering from abuse and assault. "Don't ever treat me unkind, 'Cause I had that trouble already and it left me with a dark turn of mind." . She then sees nightmarish imagery "bones in the river" and hears "shadows a-calling." The only respite from the bright sun", she says, "is not salvation, not god, just darkness.....some girls are bright as the morning.......and some have a dark turn of mind".
Originally written by as a lute ballad by John Dowland 'Weep You No More Sad Fountains' has now received a contemporary make-over and a new arrangement. This new arrangement was done as part of an EFDSS bursary and residency at Cecil Sharp House. 'Sleep is a reconciling a rest that peace begets. Doth not the sun rise smiling when fair at e'en he sets. Rest you then rest sad eyes melt not in weeping. Some lovely imagery in the 'The Light of His Lamp' "Dusk fading dimmer, the blink of his eye. A flex of his finger forms stars in the sky.....stretching out a scene to taste, the space the life that lies between." 'Sleep' is a very moving cover of a composition by WW1 poet and composer Ivor Gurney. Another super cover is a delicate version of Jackson C Frank's 'Milk & Honey' a love song using the metaphor of the transition from Autumn into Winter. A rare appearance as well from Josienne's saxophone.
An explosion of retro pop and an almost jazzy song is “The Waning Crescent”. “We’ve done vignettes before where we’ve taken on a musical genre because that’s what fits the concept of the song. On this one, we’ve used the ‘50s and ‘60s space-race era pop sound to deliberately compound the moon theme,” says Josienne. Returning back to a classic Josienne and Ben territory is the album's title track 'Overnight'. "A sleepy sight...in the glimmer of first light"
With some tongue twister lyrics 'Light Of Day' completes the cycle moving from the dawn until the light of the day. 'Overnight' is a wonderful album of high quality music from start to finish and one which Josienne and Ben can rightly be very proud of. Highly recommended.