Broken Stay Open Sky by Red River DialectRelease date: February 2, 2018
Label: Paradise Of Bachelors
Red River Dialect may be based in London now, but they certainly haven’t strayed far from their Cornish roots when it comes to their music. Their semi-acoustic reverie borne of smugglers tales and ancient wisdom, is wrapped up in an emotional fortitude that brings an intensely personal and tumultuous feel truly the music. Much like the ragged coastline, full of holes, and covered by beautiful rolling hills, the sharp jagged under-surface of the cliffs protrudes through the lush exterior of the music on offer here.
‘Juniper’ is the haunting opener, hushing in a quiet campfire communion and inviting us to its stories within. With the introduction over and as the music reaches out of its forlorn state, ‘The View’ is akin to the curtains being opened. A lilting violin colouring the rolling beat as vocalist David Morris grows “confidence in the view”. The transparency of feelings is sublime, as you are invited into a world of raw beauty and delight.
The very naturalness of the music becomes a driving factor and as ‘Kukkuripa’ carries its yearning, desperate qualities to you, it’s fiddle accentuating the emotional vocals, you find the conversational tone of the lyrics creates the impression of being a fly on the wall at a very private moment between the two protagonists. It takes the folk ethic of telling stories but makes you complicit to its feelings, rather than remaining an outsider.
The only place for ‘Open Sky (bell)’ to go is outwards after this rather insular trajectory. A cinematic response, raised in a more traditional folk style, it carries more authenticity within its character than a thousand Mumford and Sons could ever grasp. A cheap shot, in reality, as Red River Dialect owe more to the pastoral post-rock of Talk Talk, but nevertheless a feeling impressed by the genes of folk rock. Maybe it verges on post-folk rock, although to create a label for music this wonderful is simply to package up and cheapen.
‘Aery Thin’ is a more cautious affair featuring a change of pace for the final three minutes which shows a band unafraid to expand the conventions of folk writing. It’s a stunning moment that literally stops you in your tracks as you lean in closer than hear the hushed lyrics. As it reaches its complicit climax its almost as if your breath has been snatched away.
‘Cinders’ is ushered in with a slow clash with of cymbals creating a metaphor for the sea crashing against the rocks. It’s quiet power, imbued with a sense of destruction. The “mist frames the day” as the slow burn of the verse triggers a quite beautiful chorus, before sinking back again. It’s ebb and flow is captured by the slight piano, concealing the turmoil within.
That turmoil gets full release on ‘Gull Rock’ and the introspective ‘Cinders’. A song steeped in the traditional, it’s soaring fiddle matching the urgent, rolling vocal. Carrying more than a hint of ‘Matty Groves’ about it, this time it is nature that takes a beating rather than a sordid love affair. This dichotomy of man vs nature becomes the very force behind the sea by though, as the band force the music out.
This energy would almost feel out of place if it wasn’t for the gorgeous close of ‘Campana’ which does for this album what ‘Find The River’ did for REM’s Automatic For The People. It takes all the emotional turmoil within and packages it up in a final summation. It’s a song about companionship, with an unusual turn of lyrics lifting this out of its folk roots into something more universal. It’s that aspect which makes both this song, and the companion album such a wonderful, inviting listen.
Rarely do you get a sense of satisfaction and completion when an album finishes. When you do you know you have a rare beauty, and that’s just what Broken Stay Open Sky is, an album of breathtakingly rare beauty. A classic in every sense.