OFFA REX

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC REVIEWS - JOE BREEN

The Queen of Hearts

None­such

As be­fits a band named after an early 19th-cen­tury Rus­sian rev­o­lu­tion­ary group, Port­land, Ore­gon’s The De­cem­berists have a strong sense of his­tory. In­deed their Shankill Butch­ers was one of the bet­ter songs in­spired by the Trou­bles. And Olivia Chaney has im­pressed with her take on English tra­di­tional song. To­gether, as Offa Rex, they evoke the hal­cyon days of Bri­tish folk-rock al­most 50 year ago. Think Al­bion Dance Band/Steel­eye Span/Anne Briggs, with a dol­lop of Martin Carthy, Ewan McColl and June Ta­bor thrown in. All songs, plus or mi­nus, are sta­ples of the English canon and they are treated with re­spect – ar­guably too much. The ti­tle track, The Gar­dener, Flash

Com­pany and Bonny May fare best. Chaney’s voice lacks lit­tle in pu­rity but more nu­ance is re­quired. Colin Meloy, how­ever, is tone deaf in his singing of the

Black­leg Miner – a rare mis­step. de­cem­berists.com

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