Album Review: Hickory Signals – Turn To Fray

Back towards the tail end of 2016 I came across the EP Noise of the Waters by Hickory Signals and I was completely blown away by them. That year came to an end with me still gushing about their hauntingly sparse yet soulfully mesmerising melodies to just about anyone who would listen. Now at the end of 2018 just two years later I get the pleasure of repeating this with the release of their stunning album Turn to Fray.

Hickory Signals aren’t quite like any other act on the music scene right now and it’s easy to imagine that there might not ever be. They are a classical representation of folk music in some respects and such a contemporary counterpart in others. They surround themselves with some of the richest and most alluring music in recent times. Songs such as Zelda are exemplary as they fill the air with tinkling piano melodies, subtle violin scores and earnest guitar strings. Turn to Fray contains a perfect collection of songs that that allow the duo to let loose and show exactly what they are capable of. Songs like Bushes and Briars – this is a vocal piece that focusses entirely on the crystalline voice of Laura Ward. Aside from this her soothing voice is juxtaposed against a collection of softer songs like Doors to my Mind as well as cheerful tunes such as Here I Am – a song rife with pipes, banjos and sunshine itself. This warmth that Hickory Signal are so adept at creating is contagious and the perfect addition to a winters evening.

Turn to Fray is like a journey through the hearts and minds of the duo – there is a perfect and earnest nature within their work that makes their music so east to get lost in. Feeling like you are sharing in something special with them, you find yourself drifting off into their dreamlike world as their album unravels around you piece by piece. Each song seems to exist entirely in its own right and yet simultaneously as part of a larger picture. There is a real sense of revelry within their music that gives their songs the capacity to be loud or quiet, hard or soft, fast or slow; their propensity for crafting warm, inviting stories clothed in enchanting sound is a refreshing aspect as it leaves you never quite sure Turn to Fray is going to lead you next.

2016 saw the release of a truly mesmerising EP that hinted at what this duo would be capable of in the future and 2018 had this confirmed in abundance. Astonishing musical accompaniments and charmed vocals come together to create a deft collection of songs that will enrapture you completely and render you into a state of peace and tranquillity.

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Review by Joe Knipe

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