The Magpie Arc release EP3: another splendid four-track collection. They’re a gift that keeps giving.
Release date: 5th March 2021
Label: Collective/Perspective and Bandcamp
Format: CD / digital / 10″ vinyl
Having missed EP1 (nobody’s fault but mine…) and being very taken by EP2, there’s no way we were going to miss EP3.
It sees things going down again at Yellow Arch Studios in Sheffield with Tom A Wright on production duties. The band has continued on their mission to add a bit of, not quite steel which would have been handy as we’re talking about the place for that metal, but certainly some oomph to the folk-ish canon.
The four-track follow up to their impressive and hugely popular EP’s 1 and 2 breaks with the completely self-penned tradition of those releases. Two cover songs from the legendarily Townes Van Zandt and US songwriter Si Kahn, accompany two originals from the band.
Townes Van Zandt’s Loretta sets the tone following an easy Eagles (and a bit, ie, better than…) country rock a la Americana. However, Si Kahn’s What You Do With What You’ve Got is an inspired choice. Could it be Martin Simpson loving the autobiographical parts of the lyric…?
“You must know someone like him – tall and strong and lean
Body like a greyhound and a mind so dark and keen“
He certainly evokes a real empathy and adds a velvety run of slide guitar to the recipe. Tremendous choice and in modern parlance, they smashed/nailed it.
The covers sandwich It’s Too Hard and Greenswell. Two tracks that sit comfortably within the framework of that peaceful easy feeling that we detected on EP2. You can’t honestly spot the join. The former is another country-styled trundle with a little. blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, fiddle/viola (I’ll hedge my bets) injected in the latter part. Greenswell sees Nancy Kerr taking the lead vocal over a swell of music that’s carried on a ponderous tempo and with cymbal washes, some discreet banjo and a pinch of electric guitar. Reflective and slightly mournful, it’s an atmospheric treasure.
Three EPs in a short stretch is very promising and most satisfying. Short sharp bursts instead of pontificating over an album suits me (sir). Let’s hope The Magpie Arc keeps up the pace. I’m happy.
Here’s the official video for Greenswell: