Tales From Terra Firma
The lingering feeling across Tales From Terra Firma, the second full-lengther from British folk-pop band Stornoway, is that this is what Mumford & Sons will sound like when they grow up. This is the serious, chin-scratching rather than foot-tapping version of that type of almost-folk music.
And that’s a shame. Because it’s a nasty back-hander of a compliment. But it’s been impossible to escape this feeling/description as Tales From Terra Firma tries to make itself known to me.
The playing isn’t good enough to beguile as it probably intends, the songwriting is solid to the point of being boring – rather quickly. And though it’s not spit-polished to within an inch of its life it is a very manufactured and crafted version of rustic.
Stornoway should be good. And I’d rather listen to them – any day – than Mumford. But I have to admire Mumford songs for actually going somewhere – even if the pattern there seems to be to throw a banjo in a tumble-drier, cover with both hands and hope for the best.
Stornoway don’t make it to the Fairport Convention level they probably hope for. They are not Steeleye Span. And they could do, frankly, with some of the slight freak-out (in a folk sense) moments of the Incredible String Band.
It’s all so mannered, but not all that charming. Disarming.