Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker – “Overnight” (2016)

Label: Rough Trade

Review by Warren Mayocchi

With a series of song titles which loosely cover the events of a night, calling the album “Overnight” is most appropriate. Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker are talented multi-instrumental musicians who create songs which I would call “folk plus” – mostly folk, but with a variety of extra elements. Josienne sings to us with a pure and wistful voice over simple arrangements generally featuring guitar, piano, strings, and sometimes brass. A good mix for folk music and then the songwriting will sometimes add an element like a jazz saxophone or a pop arrangement. Altogether it creates a folk sound well slanted to the melancholy and with the occasional surprise. As the album begins we are treated to a few mood setting songs including “Something Familiar” which is available as a music video. It represents the album in style, and with a surprise as it is a little bit country. Following these tracks then night then begins with “Dawn of the Dark”. It has lovely melodic rolling approach and closes with a recorder solo – definitely the highlight of the album for me. As the dark closes in we have a couple of restless tracks. “The Light of His Lamp” seems to represent the desire to sleep but having thoughts and the surrounds intrude – including a ticking clock. Then we have a track called “Sleep” and subsequently we transported to the sleeping world as “Milk and Honey” gives us another surprise with a slow jazz saxophone accompaniment. Then “The Waning Crescent” takes us into a pleasant moonlit dream with the soundtrack of a fifties pop song. In the end, the “Light of Day” gently welcomes us back to waking reality. As I listen to “Overnight” I am at times reminded of Eva Cassidy, She & Him, and Jennifer Warnes (on the “Famous Blue Raincoat” album) though probably most like Cara Dillon. Musically Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker have created a comparably lovely sound, however they have a more impressionistic style than the stories and poetic lyrics in the songs those other artists chose. “Overnight” is a delicate pleasure, at times I did wish for a stronger lyrical presence but there are excellent tracks and musical surprises well performed to keep my attention.

Rating – 80/100

 

Tracklist

  1. Nine Times Along
  2. Something Familiar
  3. Sweet The Sorrow
  4. Dawn of The Dark
  5. Dark Turn of Mind (Gillian Welch cover)
  6. Weep You No More Sad Fountains (traditional English ballad)
  7. The Light of His Lamp
  8. Sleep
  9. Milk and Honey
  10. The Waning Crescent
  11. Overnight
  12. Light of Day

 

Links

twitter.com/josienneandben

facebook.com/Josienne-Clarke-and-Ben-Walker-197061213639501/

josienneandben.com