Phantom Voices – Peace By Peace

Album Review | Wyre Records | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 3/5

Phantom Voices are a six piece classic Folk Rock band from Lancashire. Peace by Peace is their second album, a solid set of traditional material with versions of “Molly Vaughan” and “Lovely Joan” and strong band compositions. With five vocalists, three guitarists and the formidable violin of Richard Curran, the band has a varied and rich palette to draw from. Joanne Byrne’s powerful and emotional voice, by virtue of being the only female singer is instantly identifiable and always enjoyable. At other times, like on “The Red Falcon” you are left captivated by a vocalist, but otherwise in the dark. “The Red Falcon” is an example of the band’s less is more, perfect restraint. The vocals recall late period Robert Plant at his most contemplative, breathy and mystical. Special mention too for the beautiful guitar part, the violins blending with the melody from “Silent Night”. For me, along with the stripped back chilling “Old Ned”, these more skeletal moments are album highpoints, nicely complimenting the storming rockier numbers. Dave Swarbrick heard something of Pentangle in Phantom Voices’ sound, for me, on tracks like “Lovely Joan” the band is mellow, but with the tight punch of mid 70’s or early 80’s Fairport. “Peace By Peace” the track is an intelligent tale, triggered by finding a world war battlefield map. Thought provoking and emotional its vocals, violin and passion inhabit the same space as the best of Show Of Hands. “Loving You” is a country blues styled love song driven by furious guitar and mandolin a proper stomper like the roaring “Molly Vaughan”, that follows. “Kitty Breaks” has a bewildering rhythm with some confounding layered vocals. Imagine Ian Dury covering Seth Lakeman. “Phantom of the Fell is a glorious closer, all furious Prog guitar and chorus vocals. Classic Folk Rock throughout, superb vocals and a solid balance of light and shade from a fine band.