MOULETTES – The Bear’s Revenge (Balling The Jack)

I have to admit that I don’t know much about the Moulettes. I recall that I saw their name mentioned in a old NME as an up and coming folk group in the Mumfords/Unthanks mould, and so looked out for their album when it came out. Now that I have it I can hear that the description was pretty much spot on, and this is a very good indie-folk offering. It is more on the Unthanks side than the Mumfords (although Mumford’s bassist Ted Dwane was once in the Moulettes, and appears on this album), and opener ‘Sing Unto Me’ has some nice vocal harmonies, led by the appealing voice of Hannah Miller. Is it a good indication of what is to follow, and a fine example of what a modern folk band can offer. ‘Country Joy’ is just that – a country tinged track of joyful exuberance, with some effective violin and an upbeat feel that cannot fail to get your feet tapping. ‘Uca’s Dance’ takes itself a bit more seriously, and the violin is joined by the rest of the string section to augment this more pop-orientated song. In complete contrast, ‘Some Who You Love’ strips back the instrumentation, and for most of the song is as folky as it gets, before the strings make a come-back to underpin a Balkan sounding violin solo. Oddly, this is the track that the band decide to stretch out to over seven minutes, but this is made up for by the fact that the instrumental jig of ‘Revenge Of The Bear’ comes in at just under two. ‘Songbird’ is a lovely ballad, which can stand on its own either with or without a ‘folk’ tag, and shows the versatility of the band. On the other hand ‘Unlock The Doors’ is pure folk, with some great down-home violin and outstanding vocal pyrotechnics. ‘Half-Remembered Song’ is another gorgeous ballad, exquisitely sung by Hannah, before the mood changes again with a classic folk instrumental by the name of ‘Grumpelstiltskin’s Jig’. ‘Circle Song’ still uses the violin and folk backing, but comes over as a more pop-orientated track with another fine vocal performance from Hannah, and the album closes with the magnificent ‘Blood And Thunder’. Another lengthy piece, at over eight minutes, this track features fellow folkie Liz Green on vocals, and comes over as a sort of progressive folk song, with various sections having different tempos and rhythms, but with the whole thing just seeming to work perfectly. For a release by a previously unknown entity this comes across as a confident and assured album, putting The Moulettes up there with the rest of my indie-folk favourites, and once again proving that this genre – which only appeared a couple of years ago – is now producing some of the best music around at the moment.
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