28 Jan 2022
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Tall Folk - Album Review: Wiser

11 Jan 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

2021 was a wonderful musical adventure for me as I threw myself into the NZ music scene, and towards the end of the year I realised that with nearly 200 reviews of local music I really should work out my Top 10 singles, EP’s, albums and gigs (check out https://www.muzic.net.nz/articles/reviews/92933/kevs-top-10s-2021). Sat inside my Top 10 for EP’s there is Tall Folk with their debut release, Live From Martin’s, and here I am with my first album review of 2022 thinking there is a high chance that this could be within my Top 10 albums at the end of the year.

Dunedin-based duo Lara Robertson and Jack Ringhand have a wonderful sense of humour, saying that Lara is from a long line of long legs while Jack is an extension of generations of long necks, hence the name. Jack is an American import, and he brings with him the Americana style while Lara is a veteran of the Dunedin folk scene and together they link and bring together the two different genres into a new whole. They are both confident singers, both happy to provide lead or harmony as the need arises, with Lara being soft and Jack with a gravelly lived-in voice which one can imagine being a highlight of the bluegrass scene.

Some of their songs are more folk-led, others strongly country, and often there are just the voices and acoustic guitars, with opener Empire a fine example of their delicious harmonies, where a plaintive fiddle provides a wonderful counterpoint. The song is laid back, demanding to be played on headphones so the listener can fall into their world, as the double bass provides just a hint of depth. The arrangements are incredibly powerful throughout the album, as they fully understand that percussion can add, but also detract, so they only use it when it makes total sense. The same is true of the steel, which is poignant and crying when it is used yet never overstays its welcome.

It is an incredibly mature album, one that certainly does not sound like a debut, as there is real confidence about all they are doing. While the topic for Dani may be like the story told in Jolene, musically it is as if they are from a different universe as there is nothing upbeat about this one, as Lara is almost begging for Dani to leave her man alone. I fell in love with this album the very first time I played it and anyone who enjoys Americana will do very well indeed to seek this out.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Tall Folk

Lara is from a long line of long legs. Jack is an extension of generations of long necks. Together, with their long limbs and swirling harmonies, they are Tall Folk. As an US-American import, Jack brings song-writing and Midwestern twang hardened in Americana tradition. Lara softens and juxtaposes the raspy edges with warm, resonant harmonies established through years embedded in the Dunedin folk scene.

On June 25, 2021, they released their debut EP recorded in a Catlins’ bach with the assistance of Dunedin rocker Michael Morris, followed by a short tour of Otago and Southland. Keeping the wheels a-turnin’ on the rail, they aim to release their full length debut album recorded by Tom Bell (Marlin’s Dreaming) at the beloved Chick's Hotel in Port Chalmers on January 14, 2022.

From the comparatively upper stratospheres of human heights, Tall Folk write from a bird’s eye view of political and social turmoil, lined with remnants of the goodness that keeps us all moving. Think a Guthrie-inspired young Prine laced with the grace of Gillian Welch. Just a bit taller.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tall Folk

Releases

Live From Martin's
Year: 2021
Type: EP

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