The 2014 BBC Folk Awards Best Duo return with a new album of atmospheric folk fusion which expands their sound
At its best modern folk music can be as thrilling as any other genre. The heritage and traditions that form its foundations need not be an inhibiting weight. Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin are prime examples of an act who are able to respect these customs while dragging them forward. Their latest release sees them spin a modern folk tale against a backdrop of peerless musicianship and it may be their best work to date.
Opening with the evocative title track you are instantly dropped into the duo’s cinematic vision. Henry’s harmonica playing has never sounded more alive. By adding a spoonful of Americana to their British roots, songs like Stones, London and Taxis have a broad appeal that will please listeners on either side of The Pond.
The instrumental sections are worthy of standalone praise. December in particular is a sweeping passage of interplay between Martin’s towering violin and Henry’s attentive guitar. Naturally, January follows and Martin’s vivid acapella is just as forceful when unaccompanied. Henry’s slide work on Lament is equally emotive, a perfect score for any epic film.
From start to finish, Watershed proves itself to be a passionate and powerful record. The duo’s dynamic songwriting is matched by their artistry and the resulting songs deserve much recognition.
Verdict: Modern folk at its pinnacle