December was a big month for Belvadere, the 3 piece modern country & folk outfit from the North West of England; having played at the inaugural Blackpool Rocks festival on the 23rd, the biggest indoor festival in Europe with names like Rae Morris, (another Blackpool girl), Wretch 32 and The 1975, it was also the month that marked the release of their debut EP, Faded Memories. It is not enough to just listen to the tracks via whatever media you prefer these days, as this band are all about their live performances and to see them now in the innocence of their youth (unbelievably, ages range from 17-18 years of age) is a sight to behold as they win hearts (and minds) wherever they go with their artistic flare and sheer musical brilliance for ones so young.
To talk to them they are non too fond of the age references and wish to be compared to the best regardless of age, a sign of their self belief and determined attitude if not a mature understanding of what lies ahead for them in the battle for success. For off the stage, they have their heads well and truly screwed on (arguably Danny likes to let his head wander occasionally if purely for the groups entertainment and his sanity) and this is reflected in the work ethic and commitment they have already shown in abundance.
Speaking with Danny at one of the more recent gigs after the Christmas Break he admitted ‘ it was nice to get a break, not just from the music but from the other two as well because when you see the same people day in day out you have to freshen it up and come back ready to take the world on again’.
And boy do these guys mean what they say; Jess whilst selling EP after EP at tonights gigs took great delight in telling me ‘we have 3 more songs now’ and I know when she says this she has one eye on the next EP…..’we know how important momentum is in this business and not just for the big players….if anyone is serious about being successful in this industry the hard work starts now..from the beginning.’ And she means it.
Faded Memories is good but gets better and better the more you listen to it. The title track Faded Memories is clearly a classic folk foot-stomper with a hint of commercial pop. Really cleverly written they make it a short but very sweet start for the EP that really sets their stall out well. Its not too much, leading with a chord structure that sticks in your mind the song is just long enough to enjoy and still leave you wanting more as it finishes.
As you expect the next song to break in to stride as well the second track on the EP, ‘No longer broken’ starts off slowing the pace right down with a smooth measured start that says ‘stay with me, we work on different levels, we are not one trick ponies so listen up’ as the soothing opening bars set the scene ……then off we go again, the feet are a stompin. This track in particular shows the bands ability to bring impressive and thoughtful harmonies to the fore as they crescendo in to the final chorus with the swagger of much more seasoned folk players….
……then there is Lay your anchor – this is the golden touch for me as in my opinion it adds a dimension to the bands potential only associated with those artists who really do have a future in the business. A track which has a little more instrumentation than the other 3 and there is always a danger that these tracks can be over cooked if you are not careful but again the young trio show a superb understanding of what its they are trying to do; this is no fluke they mean every word and every note. This is perfectly illustrated by the introduction of the mandolin which quite frankly is a subtle touch of class usually savoured by the greats; Harrison summed it up perfectly when I asked him about this track he simply said with a proud smile….’ we have a mandolin in this one’. That’s all he needed to say.
If Saint and Sinner is the weakest track on the EP then these guys are definitely going places. The oldest track on the EP is probably the most commercial as the chorus vocal melody/harmony is something you will hum for weeks but its because they enjoy writing so much this track is simply old news to them now. But even though they may feel Saint and Sinner is old news you the audience at least, should treat yourself to a few listens as it finishes off their début EP perfectly. This record is as good any independent release you will hear this year.
For further information check out Belvadere’s Aurovine account