Twelfth Day are a hauntingly beautiful young Scottish duo with an overwhelming passion for music that is almost unrivalled in modern music. Despite the pair concentrating their efforts on just their violin and pedal harp, over the years the duo have completely shirked the concept of genre and instead focussed on surprising their listeners with a wealth of music that consistently defies both categorisation and expectations.
Face to Face is their latest release and continues to buck the musical trends of the system as they apply their own off-the-cuff style of contemporary folk to their work and focus their attention on surprising their audience and possibly each other in the process. Their music concentrates heavily on the atmospheric melodies of the harp with the piercing strings of the violin striking through it like a knife. This is merely the core concept of their work however and it is as you witness their surrounding music rising up around them, stitching their individual elements together into something far greater; that is when you come to realise quite what the pair are capable of. What Twelfth Day have done within Face to Face is created what might be one of the most charmingly ethereal albums of the year. The pair have an indelible and jovial sentiment to their work and yet somehow there is an overwhelmingly haunting atmosphere that seems to rise up alongside them.
This haunting element is driven by the eerily beautiful vocals that Twelfth Day share. Catriona Price and Esther Swift are both equally talented young women with mesmerising vocals that could assuage a maelstrom but when they combine it feels as though they could tackle anything at hand. So soft and gently uplifting are their voices as it feels less like a song and more like a lullaby that could draw you through the veil. There is almost certainly some manner of the supernatural associated to Face to Face as their soothing voices ring out into the silence like the siren song of the mermaids of legends. Price and Swift bring together a striking sparse amount with their music, simple implementations of complex melodies on even more complicated instruments. The resultant tunes are softly resplendent, eerily haunting and yet astonishingly moving.
Face to Face is another musical masterpiece from a pair who have been subverting expectations for years and with this new album they have cemented their association with abstract contemporary folk music and deigned to make their own careful niche in the world because as they say on their website, why limit yourself to a label?
UK tour dates in full:
15th November – Scots Fiddle Festival, Edinburgh
18th November – Hug and Pint, Glasgow
19th November – Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester
22nd November – Ashburton Arts Centre, Ashburton, Devon
23rd November – Tolmen Centre, Constantine, Cornwall
24th November – The Acorn, Penzance, Cornwall
25th November – The Bell Inn, Bath
26th November – Cambridge Junction, Cambridge
27th November – Cecil Sharp House, London
28th November – Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
29th November – Hyde Park Book Club, Leeds
30th November – Victoria Hall, Settle
Tickets are available here.
Review by Joe Knipe