Lunatraktors – This is Broken Folk

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

An extraordinary take on both traditional and contemporary folk song, performed by utilising voices and percussion, courtesy of Carli Jefferson and Clair Le Couteur, who put aside standard instrumentation in favour of a more immediate and accessible feel. So, no strings, keys, buttons or reeds and only the occasional low whistle, leaving the duo to explore the various sonic possibilities of their own bodies in order to create a completely pared down sound. Losing none of the impact of each of the songs, which cover everything from Cossack folk songs to traditional Irish and Australian ballads, the duo fuse such stylised influences as drum n bass, jazz and flamenco; a cappella singing with sonic benefits, so to speak.

Highly theatrical in places, notably during the delivery of the story of “Arthur McBride”, to the Paul Brady melody, rather than the one used by Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick in the long distant past, the vocal delivery seems to come over almost as pantomime vernacular, whilst the one original song on the album “Turn of the Plough” is reminiscent of Faun Fables at their best, with an almost eerie aura surrounding the performance. It’s not polished, in fact before an audience, their act can verge on the comical, almost clown-like, though the songs still manage to cut through leaving an indelible mark. John Lennon playfully quotes from “Maggie May” at the close of the first side of Let It Be and here the song receives equal irreverence, delivered in an almost ‘club singer’ style. Listening to the songs on This is Broken Folk, requires a different kind of attention really and although it all sounds rather peculiar at first, further listening highlights its apparent depth.

Choice Track: “Turn of the Plough” (NSV 493)