Album Review: Harbottle and Jonas – The Sea is My Brother

It has been almost ten years since the release of the first album from Harbottle and Jonas. Since then their music has been played all around the world and they have received plaudits from major radio stations as well as the likes of folk icons such as Seth Lakeman. Their indelible and deeply personal sound is something of a joy to encounter and this February see’s the release of their latest masterpiece The Sea is my Brother.

Husband and wife duo Harbottle and Jonas, hailing from Devon are surrounded by a deep root of folk music that has been prevalent for many a year there. With their proximity to the ocean and to the endless tales of sailors and waiting wives it is little wonder that the duo has found influence within folk and shanty music. This has grown their pure and unadulterated love for folk music and allowed them to crate their own carefully crafted blend that is finer than any whisky. The Sea is my Brother is a hauntingly beautiful and breath-taking album that blends traditional elements and notions with contemporary ideas and sounds to create a fusion that is utterly their own. Even covering such classics as The Saucy Sailor Boy they have a sound like no other rendition that we have heard before. Rich, vibrant and deeply playful it is a rendition that really makes you want to dance.

Harbottle and Jonas come together perfectly as their bring their music to life with harmonies that have an astonishing level of depth and passion to them. Each of them with their own golden and honeyed vocals already, combine to form something akin to a religious experience. As their vocals meld themselves together in an inextricable manner you cannot help but be struck by the sheer devotion and love that comes from them. This could in part be due to their marriage or it could simply be that this is just how they were always meant to be. Their arresting sound adopts traditional folk instruments such as the banjo, concertina and harmonium that gives them a rich and authentic sound. But they blur the lines here as they introduce their own subtle and contemporary inflections. Songs such as Elizabeth Prettejohn have gentle brass reprieves running through them that sound almost akin to Devotchka.

The Sea is my Brother is a charming and beautiful modern-day folk tale that is told with amazing clarity and dexterity by two deeply impassioned individuals. Harbottle and Jonas are richly talented young musicians who have their own unique take on folk music and it is this vision that allows them to summon up powerful and passionate songs that will move you like a ship on the ocean.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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