Clive Pownceby of EDS (EFDSS)
reviews Blood & Honey by The Devil's IntervalOur esteemed editor sent this along with a note detailing his regret at having to wrench it from the CD player - his reaction isn't, and won't, be the only one along those lines. Check out the Spring issue of EDS if need be, for background information on the precocious talents of two members of this trio, comprising Jim Causley, Lauren McCormick and Emily Portman. We are graced here by a brilliant, fearless exposition of traditional song.
Lately, it seems, a new 'next big thing' appears with the frequency of an embarrassing British sporting farrago. Initial plaudits often prove premature when it's found that there really isn't much going on, but such isn't the case with the 'Interval.'
This recording is instantly appealing and frequently intensely moving as it ranges through impeccably chosen source-singer influences ('The Cuckoo' from Queen Caroline Hughes of Dorset) to that of revivalist mentors such as Chris Coe and John Kirkpatrick. 'Green Valley' from the former sets out their stall in fine acappella style and, in fact, we're up to track six before any instrumentation is heard. The grouping has an intuitive understanding of the dynamics of unaccompanied song, often choosing less obvious harmonies, rather than the more straight-down ones.
The Devil's Interval value their material and its origins, believe in song structure and rekindle, to my mind, the kind of intensity that fired the likes of The Young Tradition. Lauren and Emily have uncommonly beautiful voices and Jim's bass lines would've had a nod of approval from Ron Copper.
Accordion, flute and concertina, when tastefully brought in, are never overly employed and this is an album to be enjoyed, not just admired. Rare items such as 'The Bonfire Carol' prised from John Swift via Pete Coe and 'Down among the Dead Men,' traceable back some 400 years, show they know how to pick songs. Special mention too, for the hilariously bizarre 'Studying Economy' from Mabs Hall.
A wonderful, eloquent debut and the where-are-the-new-traditionalists? debate might well stop here. If they're not careful, they could have a bright future!