Namer of Clouds

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In­ti­macy with land­scape is one of folk mu­sic’s in­spi­ra­tions and at­trac­tions – re­cent ex­am­ples in­clude Seth Lake­man’s pas­sion for Devon and Alas­dair Roberts’s for the St Kilda ar­chi­pel­ago. Kitty Mac­far­lane’s home turf is Som­er­set, which is cel­e­brated on this im­pres­sive de­but. Star­ling Song cap­tures the won­der of a mur­mu­ra­tion above the Avalon marshes; Man, Friend­ship hymns the wild­ness of the same lev­els; while Mor­gan’s Pantry warns of the capri­cious mer­maids of the Bris­tol Chan­nel.

Mac­far­lane’s vo­cal style is easy, tune­ful and “in the tra­di­tion”, but what sets her work apart is her affin­ity with the nat­u­ral world and some star­tlingly po­etic lyrics. Sea Silk un­cov­ers the art of spinning from the fil­a­ments of the gi­ant clam (a trip to Sar­dinia was in­volved) and the re­sul­tant cloths that glow “gold as the dusted moth”. The ti­tle track hon­ours Luke Howard, who in 1802 clas­si­fied clouds and “gave a name to some­thing fleet­ing”. It builds into full-blown ac­com­pa­ni­ment, but most songs here re­ceive a light touch from pro­duc­ers Sam Kelly and Ja­cob Stoney: a loop­ing key­board, a touch of man­dolin, the am­bi­ence of lap­ping waves or bird­song. De­light­ful. Neil Spencer

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