Life on the Edge

EDGELARKS All Saints Wok­ing­ham

The Wokingham Paper - - LEISURE - Next gig: Wok­ing­ham Choral So­ci­ety – Satur­day, Novem­ber 11th at 7.30pm www. wok­ing­ham­con­ PE­TER BAR­RETT

PHILLIP Henry and Han­nah

Martin – now Edgelarks – came to All Saints for the third time to pro­mote their fourth al­bum, sup­ported by John El­liott (of The Lit­tle Un­said). El­liott co-pro­duced the record with Henry and joined Edgelarks for four songs, pro­vid­ing distinc­tive piano and synth sam­ples.

Edgelarks con­tinue to as­tound with their mu­si­cal dex­ter­ity: there was a Shruti box (think tune­ful drone sounds), Chat­turan­gui (think In­dian sitar mixed with dul­cimer), Hawai­ian slide gui­tar played with a paint­brush (se­ri­ously) plus the usual in­ter­play of banjo, fid­dle, Do­bro, vi­ola and har­mon­ica. I counted at least nine new songs, in­ter­spersed with sta­ples such as ‘Sil­bury Hill’ and ‘The Nail­mak­ers Strike (part II)’. This is an al­bum about lim­i­nal­ity – ‘thin places’ where bor­ders and mar­gins merge, places of hope and change where out­casts are wel­come.

‘Estren’ (Cor­nish for stranger) saw Henry demon­strate daz­zling slide gui­tar and ‘Yarls’ Wood’, the Bed­ford­shire de­ten­tion cen­tre for women refugees, saw Edgelarks al­most morph into jazz, with spon­ta­neous in­ter­play that only comes from years of prac­tice. Henry then an­nounced a ‘gospel song’ - “This is the right place to play it” – and pro­duced clas­sic beat­box har­mon­ica.

‘Un­de­liv­ered’ charted the dis­cov­ery of a 300 year-old Dutch trunk full of let­ters that were never col­lected, one writ­ten by a women made preg­nant by a rich mer­chant beg­ging for help: “you came with the sun/you left with the rain’. Martin’s ghost-like vo­cals, with words slur­ring into one an­other, float over richly tex­tured, haunt­ing melodies. On ‘Car­a­vans’ she cel­e­brates their Ex­mouth base: “Small, dis­used car­a­vans/ filled with gui­tars/ who needs walls/ when all you want is to look at the stars?”

Edgelarks of­fer songs that will ‘write them­selves across your heart like braille’ (to nick an El­liott lyric). Sim­ply mag­i­cal.

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