Marry Waterson and David A Jaycock – Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love

Album Review | Little Indian | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love is the second album from Marry Waterson and David A Jaycock, following on from 2015’s superb Two Wolves.  Marry is the daughter of Lal Waterson, and has recorded two acclaimed albums with her brother Oliver Knight as well as appearing on Waterson albums and many others since the seventies.  David Jaycock is an accomplished musician, a member of The Big Eyes Family Players and a producer of a series of fine albums in his own right.  Their second album together grew out of a writing retreat run by singer songwriter Kathryn Williams.  It was here that Marry connected with Portishead’s Adrian Utley musician and producer.  Utley was an inspired choice for producer, being very interested in letting Waterson’s rich voice and Jaycock’s distinctive guitar occupy their own space while he wove atmosphere around them.  “Vain Jackdaw” the opening track has Marry recorded outside on a rooftop, with ambience and space glowing around the hypnotic solo vocal in a performance that holds you completely.  “Lost” (Adjective) places Marry’s beautiful vocal against Jaycock’s fingerpicked acoustic, rich and reminiscent of Martin Carthy’s “Scarborough Fair” and a Utley’s second glissando psychedelic electric adds a dark undercurrent of sinister beauty.  “Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love” is a dark psych folk anthem in the making, shot through with that intense bleak gravitas that inhabits early 70s versions of Steeleye Span and The Trees.  The voice and guitar twine together wreathed in strings and keyboard swells with chilling lyrics that sound like they are read of grave stones in an overgrown churchyard.  The title itself illustrates a sinister note that lies beneath everything we do and achieve.  There is a cinematic aspect to much of the album, the vivid lyrics, Waterson’s potent delivery and timing and the glorious guitar, paint pictures.  “Out Of Their Heads” with its passage of music box piano keyboards conjures images of aged black and white flickering film of empty rooms and blank eyed figures in old fashioned clothes.  Jaycock’s fleet fingered classical guitar opens “Gunshot Lips” and the track sparkles like sunlight on water.  The lyric reads like Philip Larkin writing folk music from a cold Hull bedsit.  There is a beautiful tension between the bright guitar and the emotion in Marry’s voice in another classic noir track.  “New Love Song” is written by David A Jaycock and is a fine duet, with the voices blending beautifully.  “Three Of Them” is based on a Japanese tale, the Japanese say that we have three faces, your first, the one you show the world, the second you show your family and close friends, the third you never show anyone and it is the truest reflection of who you are.  “On Second Tide” is a song of and about the sea, the shimmering guitar suggests the waves, the lyrics are full of ocean imagery while Marry Waterson explores ideas of letting yourself go.  “Forgive Me” is another tender song with a beautiful guitar part and a beguiling vocal, if there is a folk tradition of a smouldering torch song then this is one, bathed at the end in shimmering guitar.  “Small Ways And Slowly” swelled by Romeo Stodart’s and Kathyn Williams vocals and percussion still manages to sound understated.  The subtle beauty of the album comes from the lightness of touch across the board and a brooding quiet fire or intensity.  That the album manages to simultaneously sound 45 years old and wonderfully contemporary, shot with through with classic folk revival atmosphere and a sense of now is the sign of a classic in the making.