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Julian May of SongLines

reviews Blood & Honey by The Devil's Interval

Like many a band, The Devil's Interval formed at university. More unusual was the subject that Lauren McCormick, Emily Portman and Jim Causley were studying at Newcastle - traditional music. And it is quite surprising that they emerged as devotees of English traditional song, sung in harmony, almost entirely unaccompanied, in the style associated with the Copper Family, Young Tradition and the Watersons. This rugged musical region is not one often visited by musical explorers in their 20s.


They sing beautifully as individuals and, as an ensemble, their voices complement each other extremely well. In 'The Leaves of Life' they swap harmonies adeptly and in 'The Well Below the Valley; through a subtle variation of pace, they capture the unsettling nature of the song (which features a woman who has had six children - two fathered by an uncle, two by her brother and two by father).


The repertoire is certainly interesting, including that horror movie of a ballad 'Long Lankin: 'The Cuckoo' is described here as an English blues, and is sung as such. I particularly enjoyed 'Studying Economy; a text on how to live happily on next to nothing. There are songs from travellers, songs from the great collectors - Cecil Sharp and Sabine Baring-Gould - and even a song collected from Dolly Parton.


With a deep understanding of their material, fine control of their voices, inventive arrangements, and a real sense of sheer enjoyment, The Devil's Interval make vivacious music. Blood and Honey is an accomplished, attractive debut.