EP Review

Salt House – Working For Zeus: EP Review

Salt House follows up 2020’s Haum with a guest-riddled remote collaboration.

salt house

Release date: 3rd December 2021

Label: Hudson Records

Format: CD / digital

Salt House has a constant presence in the release schedule of Hudson Records. Their Haum album and Jenny Sturgeon’s The Living Mountain have both shone as bright stars in the catalogue. Working for Zeus is the follow up EP to the 2020 album Huam.

Almost inevitably, the pandemic has played its part; the band conceding to remote recording, in itself a challenge – “Ewan and Lauren grappling with mediocre broadband in the rural Highlands, Jenny disappearing off-camera when she spotted orca out her window in Shetland.,” we’re informed. On the other hand, that’s countered by the thrill in the creation of new music.

On Working For Zeus, the trio is joined by 5 guest musicians in Maija Kauhanen, Dean Honer, Cahalen Morrison, Petter Frost Fadnes and Olav Luksengård Mjelva. Each makes various contributions; subtleties, such as kantele and almost imperceptable synth, provide the final deft touches to five beautifully arranged pieces.

Talking of which, the first impression is, that despite the remote recording methods, the finished product sounds wonderful. There’s a real empathy that allows the careful craft and delicacy of the music to shine through with a crystal clarity. Strange analogy, but the mellowness and sparsity of Flying Dream 1 by Elbow springs to mind, even to the Garvey-ness (as opposed to some who’ve likened it to John Martyn and Ben Howard) of some of Ewan MacPherson’s singing and phrasing.

Less is clearly more and the easy pace ensures the ambience is relaxed and dreamlike as the title track drifts into being , little pings of harmonics like sparkles blinking on gentle ripples. It strikes as being slightly ethereal and that idea of reflections on the water makes its way into thelyric of Under The Same Moon. Despite the “you can feel the tension growing” lyric, Lauren MacColl’s viola in the latter adds a richness while her glockenspiel provides the glitter. Possibly the most restful and fulfilling part of the set.

The hypnotic tick tock rhythm is briefly punctuated by more fiddle to give a harder edge to The Day We Made A Wood, before the mood returns to faraway and wistful for the final two pieces. We could be veering into new age folk music as the traditional core eases comfortably into directions explored on Jenny Sturgeon’s own solo work to which Working For Zeus forms a close relative.

And there we have it. Salt house leave us a beautiful little cameo for the end of a difficult year.

Here’s a reminder of Haum – official video for Mountain Of Gold:

Salt House: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Bandcamp

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