Like The River Loves The Sea is the 5th (ish) album from Joan Shelley. Her plaintive folk stylings have been critically acclaimed far and wide. Whilst she may not be reinventing the wheel, she has a way of making the old refreshingly new. The songs were written in Kentucky and recorded in Iceland. Bonnie Prince Billy guests.
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Joan Shelley's new album 'Like The River Loves The Sea' is a set of twelve country-tinged folk songs that conjure images of sun-dappled hay bales, rolling downs, and the kind of ennui you only get in English villages.
Like the modern folk records recently put out by Shirley Collins and Richard Dawson there's a brooding intensity to 'Like the River Loves The Sea' that belies a traditional folk backing. Shelley is reminiscent of Molly Drake, with both employing hugely dynamic melodies, and Nora Guthrie's soft, steady vocal tone.
There's nothing particularly new happening on this album, though I think folk is one of those genres where it's good to just sit back and enjoy it done properly and done well. For instance, artists like John Prine, Townes Van Zandt, and Blaze Foley make pretty similar music but that blend of country and folk is so comforting and beautiful that there's no need to point out the similarities to other stuff in the canon.
Joan Shelley makes classic, full-fat folk, straight from the source.
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