Review Archive

'Speak, Brother' self-titled debut EP of carefully crafted songs

(October 14, 2014)

There’s a band called ‘Speak, Brother’ that call themselves an indie folk trio … speaking as someone reviewing their self-titled debut EP, that’s a fair description but only on one level. On many others it misses Speak Brotherthe mark by miles. Certainly, the essence of folk washes through their music led by sharp acoustic cuts and strong hooks with even a touch of folk rock edge. However, this supremely tight band also delivers powerful lyrics, an intense anthemic-style and carefully crafted songs that exceed expectations, certainly for a hitherto unheard-of band.

First, you notice the vocals, brim full of passion and commitment, the lead singer giving all it’s possible to give, ranging from potent onslaught to mellow simplicity. And that’s the attraction, a voice that can both seethe with passion and hurt with the truth. Add a wave of harmonies and fervent backing vocals, sharp guitar, driving bass, percussion and sweeping keyboards, and ‘Speak, Brother’ have a quality that lifts them from the crowd.

Blending a rush of strings, percussion and voices, the opener ‘Dry Bones’ slides between quiet contemplation to impassioned assertion, pouring its expressive presence through rising climaxes. By contrast, ‘My Love’ offers a close examination of the demands and indulgencies within relationships, again the force of the song holds your attention, while the concentrated angst of ‘Break In’ suggests searching questions across its outstanding piano track. The closing song explores enduring love from a perspective that touches deeply, ‘Two Bands Of Gold’ begins with an unassuming string-picked accompaniment to intensify its pure and simple heart-rending lyrics, and again Herring’s vocals pull at your feelings. Clearly, on the day that voices were handed out Herring was near the front of the queue.

‘Speak, Brother’ radiate feelings of concentrated sensitivity combined with a barely restrained energy that leaves you wanting more. If, as they often are, this EP is a taster, then I look forward to the album. ‘Speak, Brother’ is a band that warrants a wider audience and wholly-deserved recognition.

The band is James Herring (vocals, guitar) Matt Cotterill (piano, keyboards) Nath Morris (bass, percussion). All songs written by James Herring. ‘Speak, Brother’ releases on Monday 3 November 2014, find them here: speakbrother.co.uk.

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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