Galley Beggar have pulled off the neat trick of simultaneously honouring and upgrading the psychedelic folk rock template, both reveling in the simple magic of acoustic instrumentation and joyfully harnessing the lysergic power of the electric too. And now they are poised to release their fourth and finest album, Heathen Hymns. A dizzying blend of the traditional and the untried, it’s a record full of absorbing musical stories that showcase a newfound lust for experimentation.
For all its many detours down psychedelic rabbit warrens and shadowy, fog-shrouded footpaths, Heathen Hymns is still an album with melody and humanity at its core. Fresh originals like the hypnotic Four Birds and the woozy raga rock of Moon & Tide wield an insidious charisma, but it’s the way Galley Beggar’s collective ingenuity collides with the sacrosanct likes of traditional standards Let No Man Steal Your Thyme [here featuring a guest vocal from Celia Drummond of UK acid folk legends Trees] and The Girl I Left Behind Me that confirms this album as both an unequivocal triumph for creativity and a platinum-plated treasure trove for aficionados everywhere.