Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
There is nothing bass metal about The Emily Askew Band, yet everything they have put down for their debut album, Alchemy, has the feeling of having a magic spell weaved around it, of succumbing to the incantations of the ancients and the charms of a dream summoned; the guild of sorcerers would have a gruelling time trying to match what is placed down in these scrolls and notes.
Weaving a tale can be challenging, making it interesting without sounding arduous or becoming a study of the fluff in the navel is sometimes problematic, for The Emily Askew Band, the combination between early music and modern perspective is illuminating, Alchemy, more perhaps pure chemistry, the amalgam of individual talent fused into a union, a federation of musical genius which takes the fiddle and harp of Emily Askew and entwines them with Jamie Roberts’ guitar, John Dipper’s viola d’amore and Simon Whittaker and Louise Duggan’s percussive skills in the udu, riq and Whitechapel cast medieval bells, and turns them into gold.
Chemistry is always important, without that science, of finding the right mixture, the founding basis of such exuberance and passion, may as well be stunted and maudlin. It is not an accusation you can label at The Emily Askew Band, for the discipline on show is exciting but also one steeped in the position of a memory of what perhaps we have lost along the way; in our chase for enlightenment we have taken several wrong turns, Emily Askew’s sentiment and rememberance, is a keen reminder that there is still time to turn away from the poison that has somehow got into our blood, the pursuit of avarice over knowledge, of coveting the insubstantial instead of praising the unconditional.
In tracks such as Play of Daniel/Guiseppe, Amore M’art, Winter/Tourdion, and Quant Voi Flor Nouvele/C’est la Fin, The Emily Askew Band have taken the magic and given it reality, a solid form, there is no feel of the whifferdil, of the spell being momentary, and fleeting. This is a powerful and dramatic boundless Folk and music from a period that may have been lost to time but instead is made giant and beautiful.
A brilliant debut, Alchemy is the potion and desire made authentic.
The Emily Askew Band Release Alchemy on the 8th September 2017.
Ian D. Hall