Young Waters’ self-titled debut album is nothing if not a breath of fresh air. A distinct focus on tight harmonies, interesting textures and atmospheric arrangements creates a beautifully cohesive collection of storytelling.
Young Waters, previously named Snufkin, are a 5-piece Bristol-based band consisting of Theo Passingham (Vocals & Guitar), Kerry Ann Jangle (Vocals & Percussion), Liam O’Connell (Double Bass & Vocals), Calum Smith (Violin), Rowen Elliot (Violin & Viola). The band is named after the folk ballad, most famously performed by June Tabor, of the same name. Their very own blend of haunting Neo-Folk has been compared to Fairport Convention, Fleet Foxes and the Incredible String Band. Though influenced by, among others, Philip Glass, Arvo Pärt and Maddy Prior & Tim Hart, they maintain an undeniably unique sound.
Young Waters came onto the scene in 2015 and have since been making ‘waves’ (sorry, I had to). In 2016, they won the Bath Folk Festival New Shoots Award, the prize of which was a day of recording at the world famous Real World Studios. There, they recorded 6 of the 8 songs on the album live, recording the remaining two at Norton St Philip Church in Somerset. This eclectic mix of recording spaces mirrors wonderfully the feel of this record.
The tracks are driven by excellent songwriting. The arrangements feel as if they were a natural extension of this, rising and falling perfectly in time with each feeling or thought. Intricate guitar playing sinks into the sound, allowing the two intertwined voices to come to the forefront. Strings complete the songs with twisting melodies woven in seamlessly.
Songs that truly encapsulate the feel and sound of this album are ‘Bleary Eyed’ and ‘Swimming Pool’; a real ‘checking out’ of this band would not be complete without first hearing these excellent tunes.
Young Waters bring a sound not heard too often and are certainly ones to watch as they build on the success of a solid debut album.
Review by Zach Johnson