Adelaide’s Cape – the folk collective centred around Edinburgh-born, Norwich-resident Sam Taylor - was first introduced to me as ‘nu-folk’. There are so many sub-divisions of folk, no longer a scorned genre, it’s difficult to know what ‘nu’ signifies other than aligning Adelaide’s Cape with the younger faces of modern folk like Johnny Flynn, Laura Marling and even the dreaded ‘false folk’ of Mercury-nominated Mumford and Sons. Adelaide’s Cape have toured with Alessi’s Ark, First Aid Kit and The Miserable Rich which further suggests what type of folk to expect whatever you label it.
The five songs on “Last Sleep in Albion” all are based around the core of intricately plucked guitar and the rusty Scots burr of Taylor; and they reference cold air, witches, sea breezes, gnarly trees and cabin windows. So far, so folky. But on the EP there’s a surprising amount of variety and activity beyond simply the solitary folk performer chewing over familiar themes. Opener ‘This Fiction’ starts in crackle and hiss leading into an emphatic twang-and-thump full-band stomper with atmospheric cymbal crashes and floating female harmonies. ‘Girl of the Land’ is a rustic love-song to the mysterious heroine – it sings of “her life with the beetles, the dirt and the moles / she answers to wind” but is never as flighty or flaky as this might sound.
By the bucolic folk-jangle of ‘Rush Hour Wind’ you realise there’s not only a precision of playing but a seriousness of purpose to Adelaide’s Cape. Fourth song ‘Stay’ is the closest to levity you get: it’s a “lost-dogs-and-odd-sods” after-dark drinking shanty. Behind the joyful, ragged hedonism there’s the occasional catch of regret which is then drowned out in the accordion, fiddle and massed drunken choir finale.
On all my early listens to the EP, I thought ‘Anchored Down’ was the first song rather than the last (I managed to put it in a playlist in alphabetical order rather running order). Wherever it is placed though it sounds magnificent: a gorgeous land-locked folk-blues, opening with lapping water and seagull squawk, and equating a relationship in trouble to the immobile ship of the title.
Adelaide’s Cape have an impressively long touring schedule of festivals and gigs this summer including a planned date at Dulcimer, Manchester on 29 July. But the promoter of that gig announced this week it had been cancelled because Sam “has decided he will no longer be pursuing music professionally”. Shame because whether you call it ‘nu’, ‘trad’ or ‘alt’, “Last Sleep in Albion” is an impressive debut - and it would be a great loss if it sadly becomes an impressive curtain-call. Use the link below to buy it direct from micro-indie Dustbowl Records.
BELLE (non-EP track)
Last Sleep in Albion [BUY]