Wolf & Clover’s latest album, it’s title possibly a wry reflection on lockdown is an exciting mix of traditional flavoured instrumentals and folk ballads. Spread through the album, “The Columbus Set”, “The Suitor Set” and “The Animal Set” demonstrate the band’s musicianship, darting from fast tunes driven by Matthew McCabe’s Banjo or Jessica Bennett-French’s violin, to slower airs where the playing just sings. “The Unquiet Grave” is pure early 1970’s Psych Folk with atmospheric eldritch violin and Hammond Organ behind Michelle’s chilling vocal. Chris Walton’s dreamy whistles contrast the banjo and ‘Wildman’ Steve Bronson and Chris Reichmeier’s earthy percussion. Stunningly ethereal with a striking vocal and great guitar from Julian Chalon is “An Rogaire Dubh”. “The Whistle Set” features dexterous playing Walton and the rest of the band, while “The Bedroom Set” moves from mysterious to spirited with fine piano from Caroline Richards. Wolf & Clover deliver a superb version of Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic”. Celtic mystery comes from Chris Walton, with Michelle and the band giving their version a Soulful Rock flavour. Altogether more spiritual is the pastoral feel to “O’Carolan’s Farewell To Music”, stirring and cinematic it is a quietly emotional close to the album. Indeed the band’s video gives a charged Pandemic context to this piece that the blind musician wrote on his death bed.
With a beautiful set of cover art from Joseph Melancon, that wraps round the packaging and disc, like a Pre-Raphaelite Triptych, promising mystery, depth and excitement, this is is a delight. If like me this is a new name then album number three is a good place to start.
Marc Higgins 08/04/22
Own Label 11 tracks