Album Review: Stealing Sheep Into the Diamond Sun
The UK’s newest psych-folk act, Stealing Sheep, float down amongst a sea of coloured smoke, moonlight magic and bewitching cries from the far off Merseyside shores of Liverpool. The home town of these three talented girls has been called into question on more than one occasion. When hearing their sound many a music journalist only assumed they marched down from some forest glen, wielding keyboards and guitars like sceptres, a la The Wicker Man.
A grungier, British counterpart to Au Revoir Simone, Stealing Sheep have risen swiftly over the last couple of years from recording DIY LPs in their bedroom to getting profiled in NME and playing Bestival this year. This voyage has culminated in the release of their debut album Into the Diamond Sun, in which a cacophony of musical styles harmonically merge to create a record of trippy, woozy delights.
Released by the indie label, Heavenly Records, Into the Diamond Sun is framed by the ethereal vocal harmonies of Becky, Emily and Lucy. Their voices, like ancient siren calls, draw you in to their world of spells and sorcery, creating magical imagery of far off seas and mountains. The lead single from the album, Shut Eye, is a dream folk masterpiece that ticks along at a languorous pace, as the listener gets caught in the web of their hypnotic lyrics: “In the red you’re better off dead/ Deader than the red dead sea/ Promise it to me/Promise me the sea”. The song is accompanied by a triptych of instruments, including a beautiful sitar sounding guitar.
It’s hard to categorize the musical styles found in Into the Diamond Sun as synth keyboards, acoustic guitars and drums swoop in and out at an alarming pace. The Freak Folk movement in the States over the last decade points us in the right direction though. The fairy tale song writing of Joanna Newsom and the pastoral soundscapes of Fleet Foxes and J.Tilman can be seen as direct influences on Stealing Sheep’s beguiling debut.
There may be times when Into the Diamond Sun strays too far into the realm of magical realism, but even so the music never feels twee. There are many standout tracks here, including the military beat of White Lies and the wonderfully bonkers Shark Song. Pull out your best white robes and a wreath of flowers and dance under a juniper tree to your heart’s content.