2nd December 2016
1. Darkening Bell / 2. Nightjar / 3. Brink Of June / 4. Borrowed And Blue / 5. Coracle / 6. Eye Of Tree / 7. Dotterine / 8. Seed Stitch / 9. A Grief / 10. High Tide / 11. Hollow Feather
A vivid tour de force of finely-crafted songs, Coracle is Emily Portman’s first entirely self-penned release, subtly spinning together folk motifs with deeply personal reflections on motherhood and bereavement. Coracle shrugs off pigeon-holing and dances deftly between angular weird-folk and intricately-woven contemporary pop. Signaling an adventurous new direction for this critically celebrated singer, Emily treads fresh ground following the success of her BBC Folk award-winning release Hatchling. With masterful production by the talented Andy Bell, Emily’s distinctive and unaffected voice rings out over atmospheric, intricately layered soundscapes. The Emily Portman Trio, including Lucy Farrell & Rachel Newton, provides a beguiling combination of harp, banjo, concertina, musical saw, strings and their three unique voices blend with sisterly precision. The trio are joined by a stellar cast of guest musicians including Bellowhead’s Sam Sweeney, pedal steel guitarist M G Boulter, classical percussionist Toby Kearney and the bass vocals of Neil McSweeney. Coracle’s title track features a string section made up of top UK folk players and was recorded live in a church with spine-tingling results. The electrifying opening track ‘Darkening Bell’ draws you straight into an otherworldly underground encounter with a ‘Hill King’ and spits you out into the enveloping tides of ‘Nightjar’. Brimful with suspense, ’Brink of June’ has a fresh, five-time rhythm that teeters on the edge of midsummer madness, before unfolding into ‘Coracle’ with its poignant vocal and soaring string section. Loss and fragile life are threaded through the album, from the bare bones of ‘A Grief’ to the tender expectancy of the glitch-laden ‘Seed Stitch’. Emily tackles knotty subjects like postnatal depression (‘Borrowed & Blue’), retells metamorphic folktales (‘Hollow Feather’ and ‘Dotterine’), provides an eerie, off-kilter response to the ballad of Tam Lin complete with driving-harp backbeat (‘Eye of Tree’) and forms an inspired collaboration with esteemed Liverpool poet Eleanor Rees, who wrote the lyrics for ‘High Tide’. The result is a vital album that crackles with creative energy. A stand-out release, Coracle reinforces Emily Portman’s blossoming reputation as a dazzlingly original talent and is sure to enchant fans, old and new.