Multi-instrumentalist Gill Sandell was an integral part of Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo for a decade, adding sweet harmonies, wry humour and exquisite musicianship. Deservedly, she’s getting attention in her own right as she releases her third album of folk originals.
Songs Of Our Years was written in a Welsh hideaway and recorded mostly as-live in London. This duality is reflected in the record, with bucolic lyrics but a contemporary, vibrant sound. Take opening number Walk On Low, which introduces the titular phrase, ‘songs of our years,’ the thematic focus of the album. As the tender vocals lilt, the strings ebb and flow – rising gently before being reigned in again, like subtle seasonal changes.
Hammer On Wood shines with delicately dissonant phrases, unexpected interludes, percussive flourishes and pauses. This is clearly a musician’s record with deft touches such as a ten seconds of silence between the serene brass-led My Heart Sat Down and the jaunty The Other Side Of Green, allowing adjustment to the playful tone and delightful shifting key of the latter song. Instrumental Mosaic Wood, recently championed by Frank Turner on Radio 6 Music, walks the line between sombre and optimistic.
As with Sandell’s previous output, her pure, angelic vocals contrast deliciously with dark themes. Throughout, she is backed up by equally talented musicians, including long-time collaborators Anna Jenkins, Jo Silverstone and Ted Barnes. All-in-all, Songs Of Our Years is an accomplished album produced with a light touch and a rich sound.
Head to gillsandell.com to buy the self-released record and check the list of tour dates, including the full band album launch show at St. Pancras Old Church in London on May 18.