For Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers, (the first album title with a semicolon in it that I have seen for a while), Sharron Kraus delved deep into some 11th Century Welsh folk tales, lending a great depth to the delicately constructed pieces here. Excellent contemporary folk song, 500 copies on Clay Pipe Music.

Vinyl LP £15.99 PIPE011

Repress LP on Clay Pipe Music. Includes new extra track 'Gwydion'.

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Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers by Sharron Kraus
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7/10 Robin 19 May 2015

Unless you live in Bon Iver’s house, listen to this outside. Sharron Kraus’ folkloric stylings and lush traditionalist arrangements are to be synched up with whatever nature you can get your hands on. I am currently a treacherous miscreant in so far as I am listening to her windswept folk music from the confines of a warehouse unit on an industrial estate, but: does it please you to know it’s raining and I’m very damp? Are you not entertained?

Kraus has been homaging her Welsh homeland for many years now, referencing the ornate folk of Fairport Convention, Lal Waterson and Alasdair Roberts through compositions for plucked guitar, flute, dulcimer and harp. Here she imagines tales of the country in its 11th century, though what you might notice more than anything the way she combines melody with an unnervingly raw production -- each beautiful flourish feels intimately one with its listener, the directness of her approach an attempt at breaching geographical distance and pulling the listener into the heartland. Whereas some artists might use this closeness to add warmth and specificity to their music, there’s none of Nick Drake’s comforting bass or Vashti Bunyan’s contentedness here: this is a dark record of minor keys and dishonest tranquility.

‘Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers’ has a particular strand of folk DNA in it, a type that sounds ancient and conceives of a time long gone. Kraus’ interpretation, though, is fresh and crystalline, both recorded and performed as if these were wholly new stories.



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