Opening with two original songs drawing deep from that folk-inspired well even these have enough passion and creativity poured into them they transcend any simple categorisation. The first amounts to Jamie’s Ode to the Scarecrow with a prominent violin lining the fields as its character is painted in vivid multidimensional colours. You end up really feeling for the sad sorry failure come the final round of what is a beautiful smooth chorus. This leads into Kat’s inspiring tale Doctor James. Based on the true story of military surgeon James Miranda Stuart Barry, this song breathes life into a purposely long forgotten tale. It’s always great to learn new things from music as I’d never before heard this story. After living life as a man and becoming Inspector General in charge of military hospitals, it was discovered he was actually a she and thus why the name was seemingly deleted from history. Music that educates like this should really be used in schools.
It is evident both musicians have worked hard, not only on nailing the perfect musical arrangements but also on the song writing. It is razor sharp. The subject matter covered is a wonderfully varied blend to tantalise all possible tastes. It feels so precise and if there was a mathematical formula for the perfect mix then this album has applied it. That’s not to say it feels in any way rigid as a result. Quite the opposite, there is a breathtaking fluidity that carries you through the whole adventure. At times it renders you lying on a lilo floating gently downstream to the beauty of real-life based Louis Was A Boxer and sat nav tribute, Silver Screen. Yes, a song even about those trusted/troublemaking navigation devices comes courtesy of Kat and is one bathed in the same quality and splendour as the rest. Others grab you by the feet, pull you up and send you flying through invisible rapids, particularly the two instrumentals Seven Left For Dead and Over Snake Pass. Both have magical properties, splicing and dicing their way through multiple dimensions, taking you along for the rip-roaring ride. Then there's Letters, a deeply moving number where the vocals have the power to break your heart. They convey the emotional turmoil of Kat's Danish great-grandmother waiting to hear news of her son as she worked for the BBC World Service during the Second World War.
There’s only one actual traditional song featured in the form of Jamie’s rewriting of False Knight On The Road. Having now heard a number of previous versions by a range of different artists from Steeleye Span, Hart and Prior and even the mighty Fleet Foxes, False Knight blows them all out the water to be quite honest. Finally, there’s irony afoot but with arms as Jamie’s closing ballad, The Stealing Arm is a retelling of John Ashton’s The Thief’s Arm about an amputation that went somewhat rather wrong. It’s a great way to bring the album to a close with its hook-laden chorus that embeds itself inside your head and as ever Jamie’s vocals sound amazing.
This album is a real breath of fresh air. While maintaining all important links to the folk genre it smashes through any walls and divides, crossing safely into many other areas. To widen its appeal, contemporary folk music has been evolving in a real positive direction thanks to many of today’s talented bands and artists. The Innocent Left reaches the zenith of this evolution with Gilmore and Roberts producing a modern masterpiece. It has a delicious mix of everything required to make it stand out from the rest and is one that you simply must own.
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