The Owl Service – A Garland of Song

"Apple Tree Man and The Gardener Child have enough buoyant charm to lift this record onto a completely different level. Even though hearing the words “wassailing”, “maid” or “lord’s chamber” and can still bring out the Pete Shelley in all of us."

The Owl Service – A Garland of Song


http://www.konkurrent.nl/ http://www.southern.net/  http://www.myspace.com/theowlservice   


 


 


Well, I’m a sucker for folksy moments, even if they border on the naff or the feeble. The Owl Service’s Garland of Song contains both, but still packs enough punch to make this record a thoroughly enjoyable listen.


 


It’s not underestimating things to say that this record is derivative. It says as much on the inner sleeve notes. In all honesty, the band’s name should give you an instant hint as to where they are coming from. If not, well… if you like the Wicker Man soundtrack and the odd Steeleye Span or Fairport Convention release, you’ll love this; (up to a point Lord Copper).


 


At times the home recording element (apparently they all sat round in a bedroom and went for it) can grate, and a little more care and attention taken on ballads such as The North Country Maid or Katie Cruel would have really lifted these tracks into being something really special. And yes, I’m sure Kate Rusby would knock something like Oxford City into a cocked hat… Still the messiness does add considerable charm at times, especially with the drowsy Espers-like The Rolling of the Stones or Corn Dollies: who knows, maybe if the sound was buffed up too much the record would lose some of its ragged appeal. What’s more, there are moments of pure magic; the Apple Tree Man and The Gardener Child have enough buoyant charm to lift this record onto a completely different level. Even though hearing the words “wassailing”, “maid” or “lord’s chamber” and can still bring out the Pete Shelley in all of us.


 


Oh, what the hell, I like it. It’s great. Go and check it out.


 


Words: Richard Foster