With folk music making such a strong resurgence to the music scene in the form of heavyweights such as Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Of Monsters and Men, British band Stornoway has brought a solid offering to the mix with their second album Tales from Terra Firma.
While the band itself steers clear of labeling themselves predominantly folk, their upbeat guitar rhythms coupled with the minstrel like vocals of lead singer Brian Briggs lend it a soulfulness that evokes feelings of happiness and optimism. Nowhere is this more apparent than the albums lead song, “You Take Me As I Am,” which documents a blissful wedding with the main refrain, “And if I were to die today, then it wasn’t all a waste.” With the sweetness of the lyrics and the upbeat tempo, the song perfectly leads into eight more tracks of optimistic, joyful music. Also of note in the vein of uptempo tracks are “Knock Me on the Head,” and “The Bigger Picture.”
Songs such as a “Belated Invite to Eternity,” “The Great Procrastinator,” and “Farewell Appalachia’ are more nuanced in sound and have a slower, more melancholic feel. These tracks are similar to something you might hear from Devotchka, which is a departure from the other fare present on the album. “The Great Procrastinator” effectively shows off Stornoway’s range with a somber, jazzy opening on par with the likes of something composed by George Gershwin.
Stornoway is quite good at experimenting with sounds other than just the standard acoustic guitar, piano and tambourine work that is featured so prominently in many folk albums. This range gives Terra Firma equal parts folk, alternative, chamber music, and indie – enough variance to keep it interesting amongst the myriad of similar bands.
In short, the optimism permeating Tales from Terra Firma is every bit as surreal as the cover art. While Stornoway does not do anything earth shattering on their sophomore album, they are very good at their genre and worth a listen alongside the likes of Belle and Sebastian and others.