October 17, 2016
The Green Note, London
“It’s basically a folk song – it’s got the sea and death”
Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater have separately made their mark on the modern folk scene, and their respective reputations filled The Green Note for their headline set as a duo.
They essentially played their new album, Findings, in full, explaining that the title refers to “two components [that make] something bigger than the sum of their parts.” It’s true of the tracks, often blending traditional pieces with new surrounding verses and melodies. It’s true, too, of the duo.
Both Hardy and Drinkwater are clearly comfortable on stage, both within and between songs. Not only were several performed in resounding a capella, each song was fully introduced within its historical context. That’s not to say they’re stuck in the past – some of their most compelling new material was inspired by contemporary new stories.
Hardy explained that their devastatingly beautiful song Invisible Child, written from the point of view of a five year old carer, came from “a little thread that was working its way through the back pages.” She described the 5-7 year old carers as “unfound”; they’re not officially counted or supported because they’re not expected to have such responsibilities, and “they don’t come and ask for help.”
The song’s micro focus on a macro problem echoes the duo’s approach in the song, By The Tides. It’s about children who were found in the most tragic way – drowned and washed ashore, just two amongst many Syrian refugees who didn’t find the safety they sought.
Completing the trio of real-life tragedies was The Sailor’s Farewell, inspired by a story once told by an audience member. His mother dealt with his father’s absences by hanging one of two paintings, either The Sailor’s Farewell or The Sailor’s Return. Sadly, the father’s boat was lost at sea and the painting could never be changed again: “she just waited by it.”
Hardy was justifiably emotional when speaking about the enduring ramifications of this loss – the searching, open-ended uncertainty borne by lack of closure, and the impact of grief at close quarters; of having to grow up too quickly and “not knowing how to help and what to do.”
Having, at the son’s request, turned the intensely private tragedy into a bittersweet, beautiful song, there was a final unfortunate twist. Due to a mistake in the contact details he left, he can’t be found and has never heard the powerful song.
It’s increasingly common for loop pedals to be used for layering and can sometimes be overdone, leading to jarring cacophony. Hardy’s use was different, leading to ethereal, otherworldly harmonies floating around the intimate space.
Hardy and Drinkwater’s serious and searing performances were balanced by the warm, endearing relationship between them. We’re lucky they found each other.
Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater’s album, Findings, is out now and sounds a little something like this.
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