Harbottle and Jonas – The Sea is My Brother

Album Review | Brook View Records | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

Our obsession with the sea has been detailed in every corner of the arts, from Hokusai’s monumental painting The Great Wave, Debussy’s impressionistic orchestral composition La Mer, Coleridge’s poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Iris Murdoch’s Booker winning novel The Sea, The Sea and countless folk songs and shanties throughout time. The subject rarely fails to intrigue and always feeds the imagination, with its myriad stories. The Devon-based duo David Harbottle and Freya Jonas bring the subject alive once again in song, with an album comprised of predominantly self-penned songs reflecting our relationship with the sea, from various perspectives, such as the heroics of both the friar who stayed aboard the sinking Titanic to be with his congregation “Fr Thomas Byles” and Grace Darling, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter who saved lives off the coast of Northumberland in the mid nineteenth century “A Lady Awake”, to Lillian Bilocca’s tireless campaign for better working conditions in the fishing industry in Kingston upon Hull in the 1960s Headscarf Revolutionaries. Even the unlikely appearance of Jack Kerouac, whose lost novel The Sea is My Brother provides the album with its title, makes this album ever more appealing. Perhaps it’s the duo’s arrangement of a poem by John Masefield “Hall Sands” that effectively injects real spirit into the album, a song you’re likely to play over and over.