There’ll always be a place in the English countryside for mellow, nostalgic folk and Red River Dialect give us a fine addition with Tender Gold and Gentle Blue. Based around the acoustic guitar, the eleven tracks on the album are melancholic folk tunes aided by strings and piano. The album feels like traditional folk performed before a fire down the local pub.
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- Tender Gold and Gentle Blue by Red River Dialect
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Red River Dialect used to make the Big Folk Music way back when they released ‘awellupontheway’, a schmaltzy rock record kindly taking its branch on a family tree of Mike Scott and Fairport Convention. Come ‘Tender Gold & Gentle Blue’, though, and they’ve decided that they can strip back their sound to an acoustic framework while keeping the many ornaments that make their being a quintet worthwhile. This record sounds like it was made in someone’s living room, but with a disastrous people to sofa ratio. It’s quiet and busy folk in the plurative.
Red River Dialect’s brand of folk is knotty and plaintive, with tunes showing off their abilities to pick complex tunes out of thin air while keeping them intimate: “Child Song” is a gorgeous instrumental that slides frantically down the frets while still sounding like it’s all happening over your shoulder. “Amelia”, meanwhile, brings the whole band back to encase frontman David Morris in instrumental swells: banjo that sounds like it’s being played in a snow globe, fiddle that’s floating up towards the ceiling and guitar that’s as nimble and warming as ever. The focus is on Morris’ stories, which pretty much always concerns an abstract form of heartbreak -- but the sound is lusher and bigger than him, whether in the scorched arrangements of “Khesed” or the ghostly harmonies that intrude on the solo performance of “Sceillic”.
‘Tender Gold & Gentle Blue’ suffers from its romantic home recording, in the sense that it meanders and forgets itself like a lazy Sunday, bringing the band in at choice moments and doing away with them the very next. It doesn’t cohere very well, but then neither did the musicians David Morris is tributing; The Waterboys never made an album that worked top to bottom, so why should he? This is pretty music, all things considered. And staying at home is cool. I can relate.
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