Quite simply this second collection of 5 tracks from this Leeds/Cardiff based duo is a treat. Actually, I should add a proviso onto the ‘duo’ part of that, although there are only two names above the title there are a wealth of musicians, performers, singers and a couple of fine producers who’s work has all helped to make this little EP feel bigger than many albums.
Rigour and history suggests that I go through the songs in track order, but as the piece you are able to hear right now is number 4 I thought’d i’d start there. Falling Wood (which you can listen to above) is a song that i’ve known for a while, heard played (like all the tracks) by the David half of the band playing acoustically. David Henshaw’s voice is a thing of beauty, and although it’s often said, it is genuinely rare that a voice can go from an effortless, ethereal breathlessness to shouting and broken in one beat – but his does. When he has to shout above the volume of the arrangement during the last repeat of the song’s refrain “Bring out your heavy burden / Call off the hearse you hold in fear / Tell me how you feel my love” he really gives it some, his voice cracking and breaking as he gets the most he can from his lungs.
I’m Here and Borderline, the first two tracks, show off at once the startling normality but spectacular effectiveness of some of the musicianship on the EP. I’m Here beginning with just a voice and acoustic guitar chords. Naturally, by the time it’s quite lengthy five and a half minutes or so are up we’re somewhere else entirely. Brass, strings, piano, percussion and guitar are all fighting to make you feel as uplifted as you possibly can and it’s a stunning ride getting there from the songs humble beginnings. Similarly Borderline shows its hand with just piano and heavily affected guitar before climaxing with a perfect example of the highest of high notes that David’s voice can hit.
And to, in my opinion, the finest track of this collection. Or, for that matter, any collection released so far this year. Sleepy Heart plays with far more fun than anything else on the album, musically that is. Joseph Lawrenson’s work at the piano showing a lightness of touch that many players strive for years to perfect. That isn’t to say it can’t be big, loud and full of lower octaves. When “Wake up your sleepy heart / Rejoice as your freedom starts” becomes a returning motif there is a stompingly good moment as the band hit a series of chords together and we’re left with the sustain of the piano, David’s voice in the distance and a rather excellent piece of trumpet work that makes you want to be listening to it live just so you can bathe in the build that follows it. David Henshaw shouting “we are free!” at the top of his voice over and over brings a boyish smile to my otherwise grizzled features.
The final, and title track, Rise Up The Sun is more or less a combination of the devices used elsewhere on the album; quiet-then-loud vocals, gentle composition turning into stomp-along delight, superb sting and brass arrangements and, for the one and only moment on the 5 tracks, a ukulele and a choir. And if the line “Oh my god i’ve been redeemed / You have taken me in” doesn’t fill your heart with love then there’s no hope for you!
The collection might be slightly guilty of using the quiet-quiet-build-BIG! method of songwriting – but dammit that’s exactly what I love about this EP. With this and their first, So Short Of Time, you have an albums worth of heartbreaking, heartwarming, intimate, expansive and damn near perfect music. Speaking of an album though, isn’t it about time boys..?
Rise Up The Son is released on 19th December and will be available from Joseph & David’s bandcamp - from where you can purchase So Short Of Time. They are touring in the run up to the release, and all the dates can be found here on their facebook page