Album Review – The Beacon – Harbottle & Jonas – 2021
Dave Harbottle and Freya Jonas's last album 'The Sea is My Brother', was for me, the new benchmark of English Folk. It is vehement in its perfection and understanding of the genre, breaking the borders and reaching to a new audience as well as embracing those lifelong fans of the genre, it was one of those rare beasts, it's a masterpiece.
So, what do you do for the next album? Well, Harbottle & Jonas welcomed long time friend and collaborator, the extremely talented fiddle player, Annie Baylis. You may have seen her in action on one of the best covers of a Bruce Springsteen song I've ever heard, I'll link the video below.
Now, let's get cracking, 'The Beacon' is not only the name of the album but also the opening track. It's immediately familiar to those already held under Harrbottle & Jonas's spell, as well as those who embrace English Folk on a whole. 'The Beacon' is a flare in the darkness of this worldwide pandemic, a signal of hope to guide us towards a new world.
A harmonious river of wondrous vocals and calming music, combining to give us not only renewed hope but signalling the return of the bards we have waited for, for so long. This is without a doubt a Harbottle& Jonas album, yet it's also something fresh, a new tale for us to embrace.
They are still honouring those folk heroes of old as well as also embracing modern times within their story. The second song we have is 'Edith Cavell', a tribute to not only the British nurse Edith Cavell who saved hundreds of soldiers from both sides in the war but also to those on the frontline of this pandemic. People who battle everyday to save those struck down by this plague, both within the NHS as well as the key workers keeping our countries moving.
Harbottle & Jonas switch between remembering the days gone and bringing rays of hope for the future. Scattered within the river however, are moments of stillness, these are where the small pools of self-reflection lay.
Take the breathtakingly beautiful 'Lights', it's a look at the mental attachment we have for certain people. The spiritual connection between friends, something that you can't see or touch but links your souls together across distance and physical barriers.
It's moments like this that allow The Beacon to ascend out of the morass and become something otherworldly, uniquely crafted by hand and not machine. The Beacon isn't just another good Folk album but it's a living breathing creature, a new life in its own right.
I've laughed, cried, danced, I sat stunned into silence with goosebumps and chills running down my spine, this is down to a group of strangers. People I may never meet, have moved me with nothing more than their talent as a group of musicians, more than most people I've met if I'm being honest.
Harbottle & Jonas, The Beacon, is simply astonishing, their extraordinary skill in their chosen craft are unmatched by almost all I've heard before. The Beacon, in my humble opinion, reaffirms Harbottle & Jonas as the benchmark of English Folk and one of the best bands I've ever had the pleasure of hearing, long may they reign.
The Beacon is out on the 26th March 2021 and can be pre-ordered from the following links:
For more information on Harbottle & Jonas, have a wee look at the links below:
Stay Safe - Stay Well - Peace & Love.
For more information on the COVID - 19 pandemic, please check out your local government website & NOT silly fake news on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Reddit posts!