• James Harvey

Album Review - All That We Had, We Stole - Patch & the Giant - 2017

I’m going to start with a story for you all. Visiting friends up country one storm ridden night, we decided to check out a band playing at the local venue. Arriving wet, cold and very jolly (a tad drunk one might say) we propped up the bar in time to catch the start of the set. What followed stays with us to this day. We always bring it up when we meet; how the band, who with their energy and yarn spinning abilities, got us all hooked. Dancing and singing along, a bloody good time was had by all, and it was one of those times we will never forget.

The band was of course was, Patch and the Giant. A five-piece folk band, made up of the following fine young folkies:

Luck Owen: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin

Angie Rance: Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Accordion, Piano, Vocals, Harmonica

Gabriel Merryfield: Violin, Drums

Nick Edward Harris: Bass Guitar, Percussion, Harmonica, Vocals

Derek Yau: Cello, Double Bass, Piano

At that time, they only had their E.P: The Boatswain’s Refuge released, so I listened to that over and over until finally an album turned up in 2017. Since then it has never left my play list.

A generous twelve tracks make up, “All That We Had, We Stole”, each one different and masterfully created. Kicking things off, we have “The Beggar’s Song”, which from the off, sets up a strong emotionally charged song, a trait that runs the length of the album.

Next, “A Local Man” starting with some Mandolin playing, that would make my friend from Little Fishes proud. From this we get into the tale of a man that seems to have everything, being good at everything, however, ‘But if you’d ever stop to pause and listen, You’d see what is missing, But all your eyes and all your ears, are vacant’, deep down maybe he isn’t as perfect as he seems. I’m not sure if it’s about the so call ‘role models’ people seem to worship these days with your Love Island and X-Factor soulless corporate creations or something more personal to them but as people say 'a song that has a thousand meanings to a thousand people', so it could be either/all or I could be way off!

“The River” follows on from this, a slow-moving sad tale of loss and for me one of the best tracks on the album. “Love & War” and “The Day You Went to Sea” sail slowly by with equally complex tales of loss and regret. Picking up the pace a wee bit we have “The Sleeping Boat” and “Another Day”, both mixed a changing pace with strong storytelling. Both still holding that immense emotion that Luck Owen’s voice manages to portray throughout the whole album.

We then have “Flowers” which has a more stripped back feel to begin with, a raw sound that only appears on this track. Yet it is one of the most deeply moving songs I’ve heard for a while from any solo artist or band. We stay in the slow flow of this rivers’ journey downstream with “Where My Body Lies” and “Are You Listening”.

Then it’s off into the rapids with “America”, a foot stomping tale of the hardship emigrants faced as they left for America in search of a better life. That brings us to the title track, “All That We Had, We Stole”, a slow farewell to the listener that ends with a chorus of bird song, a feeling of hope.

Now I hope you don’t get the image of a depressing album from that because it’s not in any way, shape or form. As I’ve said throughout, there is a complexity to their song writing that few other bands can come close to. Add to this some amazing talent with an array of instruments and THAT voice! So much hurt and loss yet hope and love in just one emotionally charged voice, it’s just unimaginable that one person can sound so world-trodden. It all adds up to an album that is more like a film in the sense that it grabs you and transports you to this world that they have created.

This maybe a debut album but it feels like a tale told by experienced hands, like they have been around forever, haunting your waking dreams with their bittersweet tales, it really is astounding. Now firmly one of my all-time favorite albums and bands, I can’t wait for more. If you get the chance to see them live do so, it is something else.

I want to do something a wee bit different here, I want to draw your attention to their 2013 E.P: The Boatswain’s Refuge. Out of the five tracks only one appears on the album and it would be criminal if you didn’t get to hear them. The track “Yourself Unto The Sea” is the one I really want you to hear, it will stay with you long after the final chords have finished.

For more information or tour dates, check out their official website here.

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