Around these parts, old-time music has enjoyed a steady but definite resurgence over the past decade or so. Amongst so many others, the likes of Bowerbirds, M. Ward, Alessi’s Ark and Mumford & Sons have recycled some of the style’s main aesthetic traits, reconstituted in a way that produces an inviting (perhaps invented) sense of nostalgia in some of their music.
Evening Chorus are slightly different. They have captured the catchy, homely charms of old-timey tunes whilst retaining a wonderfully modest scruffiness in delivery and production. Add to this a patent fondness for square, four-part harmonies, a crystalline clarity in lyrical expression and it’s clear there’s something about Evening Chorus that distinguishes them from others. It’s distinctly no frills, and so much more refreshing for it. Meeting with praise on all fronts, the MMP decided we’d look stupider than a milkman in a bikini if we missed the opportunity to cover this delightful outfit (unless it was a sexy, Patricia Arquette-style milkman…)
With an instrumental line up including fiddle, banjo, double bass and guitar, every musical component displays discerning humility in favour of the music. This month’s download track, Decisions, displays astounding flair for pacing in the orchestration. In the introduction, a pleasantly unusual pizzicato line from fiddler Rachel Mercer, coupled with a unison glockenspiel line decorates gentle guitar strumming. Gareth Wardle’s fragile, nuanced vocal delivery is given space before Eugene Capper echoes the dryly-plucked intro with a charming banjo/guitar harmonised break. The chorus is more or less a’cappella, before Callum Duggan’s tasteful double bass walks them into the second verse, all in. By the end of the track, the delicate wavering in Wardle’s voice has dissipated as he boldly leads a soaring vocal section, echoing the theatrical vocal demeanour of Beirut’s Zach Condon.
All Evening Chorus songs demonstrate this same sensitivity in terms of realising, voicing and structuring simple but effective musical ideas. As favourites and finalists in this year’s Greenpoll competition, the band are clearly enjoying increased exposure and are consistently writing, gigging, filming or hand making their own self-designed CD cases. As well as their recent All That We Had EP, the band intend to release another this autumn and the MMP can’t wait. It’s so nice to see an outfit as prolific and dedicated as Evening Chorus. It’s even nicer to see them rewarded for their efforts.
Words: Sion Trefor