Dai Jeffries of Folking dot com
reviews Here and Now by MoiraiHere & Now must be the first album to open with a song collected from that bastion of the tradition, Facebook™. ‘Dust If You Must’ is an anonymous poem set to music, and while there is nothing wrong with it, per se, I’d rather have it as an encore than an overture.
Moirai are Jo Freya, Melanie Biggs and Sarah Matthews, multi-instrumentalists, composers and vocalists, and this is their second album. They have settled into their groove now; mixing original compositions with traditional pieces and a title track borrowed from Daz Barker. The ratio of songs to instrumentals is higher this time with Jo and Sarah handling the majority of the vocals. Jo’s history with Blowzabella and her penchant for reed instruments frequently give their music a continental feel and bourrees are often intertwined with songs. There’s a pair of mazurkas, written by Jo and Melanie, and Jo’s clarinet combined with Melanie’s rhythmic melodeon playing give ‘The Black And The Grey/The Green Ship’ a European vibe although I suspect that both tunes are British.
The first of two traditional songs is ‘Doffin Mistress’, learned by Sarah from Corinne Male and not quite like any other version I’ve encountered. I suspect that it’s closer to its Irish roots than some more popular variants. The second is ‘The Bedmaking’, combining tunes from Gloucestershire and Wales into a particularly fine version. Sarah’s ‘The Bellamont Sisters’ is an old Derbyshire tale of the building of the 13th century Swarkestone bridge that probably should have been a song but wasn’t and Jo’s ‘The Hare’ is a rather odd song about the origins of Easter eggs and bunnies. Best of all is ‘Rolanda’s Grandmother’. There is a back-story that I’ve been unable to track down but essentially it’s about the way the horrors of war never leave those who witness them.
Here & Now sees Moirai in a more serious mood that did Sideways and gives the impression of material gathered with the trio specifically in mind. There is some lovely playing from all three and everything just feels right.