Album of the Year – Arborea ‘Wayfaring Summer’

Arborea_1It’s a bold claim, but one I’m willing to stick my neck out on. I won’t hear a better album than this in 2006. The best new record I’ve heard in years, Arborea‘s ‘Wayfaring Summer’ is a bona fide masterpiece. 10 tracks of absolute genius, containing the tender beauty of Nick Drake’s ‘Five Leaves Left’, the intimate scratchy picks and slides of the Reverend Gary Davis, the other worldy qualities of British acid folk, and a breathtaking originality completely Arborea’s own. Buck and Shanti Curran have created a wonderful album that needs to be heard by anyone with ears.

‘Rivers and Rapids’ is equal parts psychedelia, Smithsonian field recording and backwater folk. Shanti’s voices trips in and out over a strange bowed noise that unnerves and settles simultaneously. ‘Alligator’ is the sound of the sexiest country/folk you’ve ever heard. Shanti purrs, siren like, leading you down by the water for white magic and fire-light mischief. If you will be completely in love with Shanti by the close of the song, and Buck’s sensual instrumentation only furthers the sass.

Each song feels incredibly intimate and contains cathedral volumes of space. The feel of each track is superbly varied and paced, yet somehow manage to feel like they’ve been unearthed in the vaults of an ancient Corinthian church.

‘Shagg Pond Revival’ is subtly off-kilter, with Shanti becoming the chanteuse once more. However, there is more to Arborea than seduction. ‘Dance, Sing, Fight’ sees both singing (something that Buck should do more frequently by the sounds of this) in perfect union. The dying notes of the chorus from Shanti’s lips are so sweet that it’s impossible to resist. The stop/start lyrics glide through yet more fabulous music, and should their be a single, this would be worth considering. Failing that, the stand out track from the LP is the heartbreaking Beirut which sinks deep into your memory on first listen. The lyric "I hear the sound" rings true as the song goes straight to your heart and doesn’t let go. A truly wonderful piece of music.

For fans of folk and/or country, this album is absolutely essential. It holds British folk as close to its heart as 1920’s country and blues. Many have tried to fuse them before, and failed, but Arborea have found the perfect marriage and developed an incredible, ethereal beauty that leaves them light years ahead of the pack. To say that only folkies would like the album is to do it a disservice. There is enough to appeal to anyone. Listen to ‘Warfaring Summer’ over and over and over again, and new motifs and melodies reveal to the listener in each sitting. This is an LP that this writer really can’t get enough of. Incredible, breathtaking and perfect.

Buy Arborea’s ‘Wayfaring Summer’ by clicking here. You’ll wonder how you lived without it.

 

Mof Gimmers

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