Unbelievably, it's almost 50 years since Fairport Convention and their followers – Steeleye Span, Trees, Dando Shaft, Mellow Candle and others – fashioned British folk-rock. Kent-based sextet Galley Beggar – who take their name from a mischievous spirit in English folklore – describe their mission as "to imagine the next phase of English folk-rock" on their third album, Silence & Tears.
Indeed, the eight tracks on the new album span traditional song, Gothic balladry and peculiarly British acid rock, the mood alternately fragile and robust, with sweet vocal harmonies, lyrical guitar playing and added texture from the violin of Celine Marshall. The material spans re-workings of the ancient classics Geordie and Jack Orion, brooding ballads like Adam & Eve and the otherworldy Empty Sky, and the intense 9-minute epic Pay my Body Home, which triumphantly recalls folk-rock’s early 70s glory days.
Silence & Tears may echo centuries of folk tradition, but its crisp, punchy sound is resolutely modern, despite calling on retro flourishes such as phasing, wah-wah and backwards guitar. Much of that is down to the fact that it was recorded at the profoundly analogue Toe Rag studios, where White Stripes, Tame Impala, the Zutons and many others have also worked with renowned producer-engineer Liam Watson.
In an era when bands such as Trembling Bells, Circulus and Wolf People have brought folk-rock to the fore again, the hypnotic interplay and inspired jamming on Silence & Tears is sure to find an enthusiastic audience.