EP Review

The Magpie Arc – EP2: EP Review

The Magpie Arc – the cross-border, five-piece folk/rock band – follow EP1 with the logical successor, EP2

Release date: 4th December 20020

Label: Collective/Perspective and Bandcamp

Format: CD / Digital / 10″ coloured vinyl

Nancy Kerr, Martin Simpson, Alex Hunter, Adam Holmes and Tom A. Wright gift us four more tracks to add to EP1 which appeared a couple of months ago. Having inexplicably missed that intro to the new outfit, there’s some catch up to be done. Not least acquiring the 10″ coloured vinyl releases…

It’s one of those ‘ideas amongst friends’ that leads to the get together for the obligatory studio jam and then sit back to reap the dividends. Sahre bewteen five and associated engineers and the Magpies might not be off on Carribean holidays but can glow in the warm feeling of a job well done.

Add the sheer joy as five get together and make a musical racket, The Magpie Arc runs very much in the same vein as Jim Moray and Sam Carter’s False Lights. There are no boundaries within folk or blues, or missing the chance to add a bit of country flavour. You may even come by some rock ‘n’ roll. Risk taking? Hardly, but why the hell not?

EP2 is the second release of a planned three and whilst it continues to echo the bands own twist on the UK and US folk/rock era of the late 1960s and early 1970’s, this one comes with a definite extra helping of State-side spice.

As diverse as EP1 was, EP2 takes the band’s unique sound further and being described as Britain’s long-overdue answer to Crosby, Stills and Nash is certainly not misplaced. All classy vocal lines and the rock solid dependency of the bass and drums that add so much to a folk tune.

Anything with Martin Simpson and Nancy Kerr playing their parts is what Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness (in their The Album Years podcast which gets wound into several of our reviews) would call a ‘no risk disc’. Like the old bootleg TMOQ. They kick off with a folk rock revivalling Darling Charms. One from Nancy Kerr and a nod to the straightforward rock;Nancy fiddle singing and Martin crafting some bottleneck guitar and cut from similar cloth to a personal fave, Never Ever Lay Them Down on her Sweet Visitor album.

It would segue very nicely into Cinnabar; another from Nancy that promises a psychedelic 60’s San-Francisco groove and delivers via lovely reverb guitar ringing round Yellow Arch. Some inventive drum fills and patterns take it in a contemporary direction yet retaining that whiff of patchouli and swirling psychedelia.

Martin Simpson’s I Should Have Walked is classic Simpson Americana. In contrast to Nancy’s driving pieces, this is more easy-paced with a mournful fiddle adding a pathos, you almost expect the velvet rich tones of Richard Hawley to emerge. Perhaps Martin could have frogmarched his neighbour up to deliver the opening line “I should have walked a long time ago.” Perhaps on his next record…

Bringing up the rear, the Adam Holmes/Tom A. Wright penned Roll Your Stone Away recalls Little Feat and The Band and finds the quintet at their most ‘folky’. Even delivered in a suitable drawl, there’s a swing and a swagger that wouldn’t be out of place on a dusty porch or in the Back To The Future III soundtrack. Plucking at a twanging Fender while Mr Simpson performs more amazing feats with a slide guitar, it’s a track made to encore with.

These EP sets seem to be picking up some of the residual energy from the walls of Yellow Arch Studios with a rich atmosphere and authentic vibe. And so we await the next installment. With a promise not to be late for the arrival.

Listen to Darling Charms live from Silk Mill Studios here:

The Magpie Arc online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube

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