Review Archive

‘Sing Walter de la Mare’ - The Lancashire Hustlers – songs to leave a mark

(November 11, 2013)

Naturally - Walter de la Mare’s poems of set to music. And why not? Benjamin Britten had a go and so have a few others. For time immemorial folksong writers have freely plundered poetry for Lancashire Hustlers picits lyrics. Sometimes it’s the borrowing of the odd stanza, occasionally it’s the entire poem. Indeed, many would contend that the works of English poets from Brooke and Kipling to Graves and Tennyson yield more once set to music than they did in verse. In this instance, London duo The Lancashire Hustlers (another story there without doubt) have put four of Walter de la Mare’s poems to music with their ‘Sing Walter de la Mare’ EP.

Much of the essential De la Mare poetry told stories that lend themselves to folk narrative and the four on this EP are no exception. The Lancashire Hustlers add a hypnotic melody to ‘Autumn’ with its agonising longing for what has gone and futile recollection of loss - and a deeply moving song results.

They do the same with the quiet security and strong foundation told through ‘Comfort’ as they reflect the essence of the poem with a slow and steady beatIn each case the ethereal vocals and interweaving melodies bring life to the lyrics. The dark strangeness of the smiling ‘John Mouldy’ with whatever dark secret lives in his head, sitting in his cellar is profoundly presented by yet another finely wrought tune, as is the insistent beat behind the questioning of‘Someone’ . Confront whatever images you perceive, encounter whatever apparitions they raise - these songs will definitely leave a mark.

The Lancashire Hustlers, who are Brent Thorley (vocals, guitar, keyboards) and Ian Pakes (percussion, vocals) offer thoughtful, elusive harmonies built around sensitively constructed, mystical melodies to create supremely illustrative narratives – De la Mare would approve. When comes the album?

Find them here:

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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