Album Review: Arcelia – Building on the Land

‘This is acoustic mood music of the highest order’

It’s not often I start reviews with a tag line – but, looking back at what I’d previously written about Arcelia the above still seemed completely relevant (and gave me a self appreciation moment at the same time!).

It was back in early 2013 that we first received the debut three track EP from the Kent based trio – full of optimism and excitement that a new act brings to the table, and to say we were blown away then was an understatement.

Fast forward 5 years, and after an excellent full album release in 2014 – ‘Wrap Your Bones’, the band are back with their second full length offering which provides the listener both the tried and tested soulful folk formula seen on their previous releases, alongside the odd curve-ball that shows a maturity and confidence of an act evidently very comfortable with their set-up and sound.

Arcelia have forged a reputation for their watertight harmonies and these are in abundance on this record. All three members of the band, Gavin Alexander, Teresa Gallagher and Simon Foster are so in tune with their voices as a unit it is borderline perfection. It is this lush soulful sound that for the most part cements the songs on this album. The vast majority gliding pleasantly along – well crafted songwriting backed by solid yet not overpowering accompaniment on guitar, piano and percussion in the main – and those voices sitting atop, each taking turns on lead vocal duty with the three part backing decorating the tracks where required.

Listen to the track ‘Fallen’ here

As I said though, there are signs on this record that the band are not resting on the tried and trusted formula – and new musical ideas have been introduced – most notably on the song Yellow Soup which embraces a slightly rockier feel – harder drum groove, chunkier chords – however of course the vocal work is as tight and together as in any other. Think of the moment Crosby, Stills and Nash added the raw power of Neil Young to their sound and this’ll give you an idea of the effect and impact this song has on the Building on the Land record – you’re not quite expecting it, but when you hear it a couple of times, it actually fits in really well. Clever.

Another standout is the poignant Far & Away. A song about loss from the point of view of a family having fled the nest. It’s subtle acoustic and slide guitar accompaniment perfect as a platform for the lyrics.

You need this record for relaxing, on a summers day while sitting in the garden – this record will chill you out. This band will chill you out. Acoustic mood music of the highest order it most definitely is, and worth your time should you choose to invest.

More details can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/Arceliamusic/

Review by Phil Daniels