INTERVIEW: Holly & The Reivers | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The natural worry for live music fans, when you hear one of your favourite live acts is going to record music, is ‘is it going to sound as good recorded as it does live?’

Known for their ferocious live shows, Holly & The Reivers are an excellent live act; full of multi-part vocals, precise folk musicianship and lovely and interesting asides. If only in terms of capturing their energy, recording their debut album must have been a challenge. 

We were a bit worried when we went in to record the album,” confirms singer and guitarist Holly Clarke, who makes up the band with Merle Harbron (vocals, fiddle) and Bertie Armstrong (vocals, banjo), “but we also knew we could play well so we were pretty confident it would come out okay.” And come out okay it sure does. 

Taken over 11 tracks, Three Galleys is a treat for lovers of the darker elements of folk. Accompanied by wonderful musicianship and stunning three-part-harmonies, the trio’s album tracks its way across some of the most iconic parts of folk, with each song breathing fully to capture the expanse of their surroundings – it’s like listening to a live Cormac McCarthy reading. 

The album’s an amalgamation of all of the elements we love about folk

The album’s an amalgamation of all of the elements we love about folk,” continues Clarke, “which for us means that it’s heavily into ‘folk horror’ aspects, so imagine the sound of The Wicker Man soundtrack which is creepy and eerie in places.” 

Choosing tracks which fall into the ‘folk horror’ realm, Three Galleys has a deliberate narrative theme; songs such as The Bold Marauder and Walking Boss drawing out elements of protest and punk that are deeply rooted in the more defiant aspects of folk. 

For the debut record we’ve chosen songs we really believe in. So songs like Bold Marauder are protesting war and Bleary Winter talks about lamenting the loss of England’s land. With the current times and ideas of war, and of the right to roam movement, we felt like these were good songs to not only showcase beautiful folk songs but also showcase messages that are still really vital today.  Another song, Willie O Winsbury, is a 400 year old song about Queer love – again these are great pieces to connect with but also to show that there is still much to fight for and to be angry about.”

Whilst album launch dates are still being figured out (“we’re really keen to do some local live album dates but there’s a few things to still be worked out”), the trio’s talk has already moved on to album two and what comes next. “We feel like this is just scratching the surface of what we want to make, but we’re really happy with the record and want to create new atmospheres as soon as we can.”

In the meantime you have the options of either seeing Holly & The Reivers live or listening to them recorded – both options being equally as good.  

Holly & The Reivers release Three Galleys on 15th November.

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