London based progressive folk trio James Edge and the Mindstep release their 6 track EP On a Red Horse this week. It features their recent double A-side single Where We’re Going To / Becoming amid a collection of well crafted and interesting songs. This EP is far from their first but is, in my humble opinion, their most notable and although Folk musicians rarely make the big time, these guys have something a little different and special to offer the genre.
If you haven’t heard their work before, think Johnny Flynn meets Brett from Flight of the Conchords and you’ll be on the right track for their sound and although their tunes are sometimes playful, they lack the satire of the latter, following the traditional lyrical direction of good old British Folk. The subject of the songs vary from folklore to war and politics as any good folk song should and in spite of this traditional approach, they have managed to create something new and interesting with their instrumentals.
The prime example of this is the minor chord cacophony closing the title track, On a Red Horse, which if played not on their strings but electric guitars in overdrive, wouldn’t sound out of place on a Slipknot album! Yes a stark comparison that may scare you off, but trust me it works. There is also a good example of their fresh approach on Where We’re Going To which is an almost jovial, staccato riddled poppy number that will have your feet tapping right through.
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The remaining tracks follow a beautiful melancholy theme bolstered with emotive strings, including some wonderfully bowed cello and James’ soothing, soaring vocals running throughout. Finishing with the sublime Becoming and it’s lyrically formed, nautical themed imagery was a great choice of finish as although it has that melancholy feel, it is also full of hope for the future.
This EP may not be lined up to set the world alight, but it sounds like the beginning of a face-lift for the folk scene that could see them following the footsteps of other English troubadours like Laura Marling and Newton Faulkner who, while not being mainstream, comfortably ride the under currents that lead to long term careers in the music industry. If James Edge and the Mindstep continue to produce songs crafted to this calibre, I reckon they have a good chance of sailing with them.