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Green Rock River Band - Edgelands (Self Release)

Star rating: 
4

Clive King had Stig Of The Dump, JG Ballard Concrete Island. The Folk Blues tradition has a long fascinating with the open road, rambling, roaming. But in line with those two otherwise unconnected writers, Green Rock River Band on Edgelands explore those unloved, overlooked spaces on the edges of cities. The Edgelands places are, the band says, a very British, suburban kind of wilderness. The album opens with Jeremy Sachs' evocative and gritty vocals on Hard Times a tale of how easy it is to be felled by poor circumstances. There is a Tom Waits crackle and rasp to Sach's vocal, think Mumford and Sons with bite. The Brass and chorus vocals create a superb 21st Century Folk Song. Blackbird continues that gritty vibe while upping the tempo and throwing in a beautiful atmospheric instrumental break to show its not just rabble rousing protest music. I Loved This City is another stirring tale of the denizens of the Edgelands battling against the uncaring modern city. Wonderfully stirring vocal from Rebecca Freeman.

Against these unsettling parables Brockwell Park is a intoxicating celebratory piece of dance music to remind us of the good that happens when people come together in public spaces. Kevin, King Of The Edgelands is a whirling, roaring, larger than life ballad. With tongue firmly in cheek Green Rock River Band tell a spicy tale of children's passions and feral escape. Think Police Dog Hogan or Show Of Hands for that small lives writ large quality. There's A Sadness is a wonderful Country tinged Edgelands melancholic gem with a passionate vocal again from Rebecca, Freeman. Infinite Possibilities has a fine woozy tempo, surreal observational lyrics and the feel of the unclassifiable Handsome Family at their best. Again there is a lovely touch of the Tom Waits growl to remind you of the darkness beyond the service station strip lights on this album highlight. Tomorrow closes this loose thematic concept album and as the title suggests it's a song of hope and a gently furious call for a better world. The violin and tune evoke that British pastoral melancholy of Johnny Flynn's theme to The Detectorists. A wonderful singalong closing refrain of Del Boy, this time next year future dreaming. 

This is a wonderful vivid and evocative album. Thoughtful lyrics with sensitive music. It functions as a subtle whole and it is quietly stirring rather than finger stabbing or flag waving. Thematically linked as a flowing whole like Dark Side Of The Moon, but individually strong as well. Highly recommended. 

Marc Higgins 
Northern Sky