Oka Vanga – Oka Vanga: Album Review

The third album from the Folk/Americana duo of Will and Angie, known collectively as Oka Vanga

Release date: 26th March 2021

Label: Crazy Bird Records

Format: CD / DL

Oka Vanga have been on the radar for a few years now. I still play their Tales Of Eyam EP a lot – a fascinating musical collection based around the Derbyshire plague village. Real life makes it all seem, erm, more real…

Their latest, eponymous album is their third and sees the duo ramping up their Folk/Americana signature sound with a determination that they won’t be defeated by circumstance. Not when there’s an iphone around to aid and abet when faced with recording in isolation.

It’s a lively set full of the joys and is made up of eight self written originals and a couple of trad. arrs. Will and Angie are joined by the familiar names of John Parker on double bass and Patsy Reid on violin, viola and cello, but it’s their sprightly guitar, ukelele and mandolin that sit to the fore.

It’s hard not to be seduced by the light and bright airy feel in the opening flurry of Angie’s songs. Conjuring up warm images of dusky sunsets and the joys of friendship and bluesy foot-stomping hoedowns, genres and boundaries are breached. The instrumental Tenpenny Bit And The Crooked Crow shows how their original songs are joined at the hip with trad folk tunes. The fingers fly up and down the fretboards in a festival of picking and plucking. Partner it with the gently reeling Blackthorn Stick & Athol Highlanders and you’ll find it hard to spot the join.

On the other side of the coin, Johanna finds Angie creating visions of entering Dylan mode and Patsy Reid’s violin stands out on the rolling Blue Sky In Our Veins. Then Bluebird heads into cool lounge jazz territory. Hardly the image they’d want (I think…) but I can see Ange crooning in sparkly evening dress a la Aretha Franklin/Billie Holliday, in front of a set of luxurious velvet drapes with a besuited and bow-tied band grooving on the rhythm.

Lest we forget, their take on the traditional The Cuckoo (she’s a pretty bird) serenades us out. With a folky conclusion to round off the royal variety we’ve encountered, it reinforces the fact that it’s always a pleasure to listen to Oka Vanga.

Here’s the single from the album – Beneath The Apple Tree:

Oka Vanga online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Youtube / Bandcamp

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