Kitty Macfarlane – Namer of Clouds

Album Review | Navigator | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 5/5

When I first heard Kitty Macfarlane’s debut EP, Time and Tide, in the spring of 2016, it was immediately obvious to me that we had a major new talent on our hands, a singer, songwriter and importantly, a new nature conscious presence on the British folk and acoustic music scene. The unaccompanied opening verse of “Wrecking Days” was almost enough to confirm this and immediately made me to sit up and listen. Here, Kitty revisits the song midway through her much anticipated debut full-length album, with Jamie Francis’ banjo replaced by his Folk Rock inspired electric guitar. The song is joined by ten others, mostly self-penned with a couple of traditional songs and one adapted poem. Once again, Kitty’s material is drawn from the landscape, notably the vast wetlands of her native Somerset, not only from the land but from the sky above it, with a song about the pharmacist who gave clouds their names, which in turn gave the album its title. Then there’s the unlikely setting of the Mediterranean island of Sant’ Antioca, just off the South West coast of Sardinia, which centres around the ethereal ancient world of sea silk spinning, in fact Kitty’s notes on meeting the last surviving sea silk seamstress Chiara Vigo are utterly enchanting, as are the field recordings made by Kitty and co-producer Sam Kelly especially for this project. Joined together with the sounds of laughter, birdsong, the lapping of waves and the ripples of streams, the songs are allowed to breath alongside nature, effectively lifting the songs to a new level of enjoyment. You feel as though you are at one with nature, with the starling murmurations, the sea, the eels, the ancient crafts of the Med and the Atlantic castaways and cuttlefish bones. This is everything we expected from Kitty and more.