EP 1. Is the debut release from the self-proclaimed, cross-border, folk, Americana band, The Magpie Arc. The band comprises quite an esteemed line up of English and Scottish folk and acoustic players - Nancy Kerr on vocals, fiddle, and guitar, Martin Simpson on guitar and vocals, Alex Hunter on bass, and Adam Holmes on guitar and vocals.
They suggest they got together to play inspired by musical friendship and the wish to make an enthusiastic racket. The racket they are aiming for is folk, blues, country, and maybe even rock’n’roll. The material is drawn from originals written by individual members of the band, reworked traditional songs, and some covers.
Magpies are not the most popular birds by a long stretch. Stealing from others often has that effect. But fear not. In this case, the mix works very well. Indeed it is difficult to see how it could have failed with such talent involved in what is clearly a labour of love rather than a forced coming together for commercial reasons.
There are four songs on this debut release with the writing credits spread among all band members. ‘Canon’ has beautiful vocal harmonies harking back to the 60s and 70s folk-rock era and featuring a brilliant lead vocal from Nancy Kerr. What an outstanding voice.
‘Whenever I’m Alone’ is a sad tale of lost love. Martin Simpson’s contribution ‘Love Never Dies’ is a dark tale set in an American truck stop. It wouldn’t be out of place on a Coen Brothers film soundtrack. The EP closer ‘Autumn Leaves’ has outstanding guitar picking and fiddle playing behind a strong melody.
There is a lot to like here, and I look forward to the band’s future releases. ‘EP1’ is exclusively available from themagpiearc.com.