The Owl Service – The Burn Comes Down (Expanded Edition) (2010)

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The Owl Service - The Burn Comes Down (Expanded Edition) (2010)

The Owl Service – The Burn Comes Down (Expanded Edition) (2010)
MP3 CBR 320kbps | 00:43:45 | 102.51 Mb
British Folk Rock, Psychedelic Folk, Indie Folk | Country: United Kingdom | Label: Rif Mountain

The Owl Service was an English alternative folk music collective formed in 2006 by multi-instrumentalist Steven Collins (who led the band for its entire 10 year duration), named after the 1967 novel by Alan Garner. The Burn Comes Down is a very generous ep of mostly traditional songs bound together by the common thread of winter. Performing in a classic English folk-rock style, The Owl Service sound as if they must be regular visitors to 1970.

Guest singer Alison O’Donnell of the revered Mellow Candle is the first person we hear, setting the mood with a chilly fragment of January Snows. This piece is followed by a lovely rendition of Drive The Cold Winter Away, that is bound to become a favourite in our household, whilst the third track is sung by second guest singer Roshi Nasehi. Most of the performances have a very soft-focus quality about them, this mellowness is nice though sometimes perhaps a little safe, where a hint of eeriness or coarseness might have improved things. Dominic Cooper provides contrast via a hearty a-capella rendering of The Bitter Withy, giving the collection its most gnarled performance, and it’s a good one, Dominic’s distinctive nasal tones reminding us of the raw winter night outside. I am familiar with Mike Waterson’s excellent rendition too, which has shaped my appreciation of the song itself, but I can see this new version wowwing folks who are hearing this version first, and judging all others from this first point. Fans of Dominic’s performance would do well to hunt down his other band, The Straw Bear Band, and its very fine alt-folk-tronica concept album From The Sea To The Stars.

The band sound very faithful to classic English folk-rock, almost to the point of being a pure re-enactment of that halcyon time, the palette of instruments is varied but stays within the scope of what was to the fore back then (there’s a respectful nod to Pentangle in the use of sitar here and there). It is actually the inclusion of some unusual and inventive arrangements, seeing songs taking unexpected turns, that provide some distinction, as on the quite wonderful, shapeshifting progression of Winter (A Dirge). Elsewhere early Steeleye Span come to mind, especially on the jaunty Cold And Raw.

Circulus and Espers are my favourite of the current bands evoking the spirit of classic folk-rock. To me, at their best, they possess an illusive quality of strangeness and magic that is intrinsic to what makes the music of forebears like Trees and Incredible String Band so special. The Owl Service are verging on that place too.

Steven Collins – electric, acoustic and bass guitars, banjo, vocals, keyboards, drones, percussion, drums, synths, recording, mixing, mastering (2006-2016)
Diana Collier – vocals (2007-2016)
Dom Cooper – vocals (2007-2012)
Katie English – flute, percussion (2008-2012)
Jo Lepine – vocals (2007-2016)
Jason Steel – acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals (2008-2012)
Nancy Wallace – acoustic guitar, concertina, vocals (2007-2016)

Track List:
01. January Snows (fragment) (00:53)
02. Drive the Cold Winter Away (05:31)
03. When a Man’s in Love (04:19)
04. Fire & Wine (fragment) (00:26)
05. The Bitter Withy (02:17)
06. Cold & Raw (02:50)
07. January Snows (06:59)
08. The Snow it Melts the Soonest (fragment) (00:49)
09. Winter (A Dirge) (06:29)
10. BONUS TRACK: Saturnalia Song (version 2) (03:15)
11. BONUS TRACK: A Christmas Fantasie (06:06)
12. BONUS TRACK: White Winter Hymnal (01:51)
13. BONUS TRACK: The Spirit of Christmas (02:01)

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