Brothers James and Sam Gillespie are siblings in complete harmony, their voices unflinchingly complimentary; with a sound not dissimilar to Simon & Garfunkle. These tunes are gentle on the ear, soft soothing melodies to calm the soul, spiritual in essence.
The Brothers Gillespie found their sound growing up in the fells and valleys of Northumberland, in the tradition of the ancient English folk music, it’s an album that’s inevitably close to nature, rich in its own soul. The fact that their music comes to them when walking in the borderlands with their backpacks and instruments; a regular creative, soul-enriching practice translates neatly and naturally into their compositions.
The hiatus in performing live as a result of the pandemic has allowed many artists to take stock, review, reflect and dig deep into their creativity. For the Brothers Gillespie it renewed their commitment to their craft. They spent time in lockdown honing and recording ‘The Merciful Road’, their first self-recorded album; from a cottage studio on the banks of the River Tweed. With finger style guitar playing, flourishes of bouzouki, wooden flute, fiddle, gourd banjo and shruti box, plus guest musicians on double bass, Celtic harp and piano, the complex, yet delicate vibrancy and authenticity shines through.
Opening with the beautiful ‘Pilgrim Song’ – inspired by a walk while camping in the Luberon in the South of France, to ‘Wingrove Road’ – the colourful streets of Fenham alive with the magic that meets the eyes of childhood, ‘The Merciful Road’ is aloft with a sense of journey, pilgrimage, and other meanderings. Even ‘Bird on the Bough’ is about how the blues can be a pathway, when things are dark and desperate.
‘Great Aunt Katherine’ is an ancestral story of the highland clearances, when many left for Australian and New Zealand, as uncovered by the brothers great aunt, while staying on the theme of ancestry, ‘Descended’ is a song inspired by the struggle to keep Northumbrian wild Hills of Wannies wild.
‘Albion’ is a long song to England. ‘When Fortune Turns the Wheel’ a traditional Borders parting song keeps the vibe very much on English soul and the English folk traditions.
Keeping with that theme of travelling the road (less travelled perhaps), ‘The Merciful Road’ meets ‘The Endless Road’ in finale, a beautiful song in grief and praise of connection and belonging.
‘The Merciful Road’ is available now on vinyl, CD and MP3 at thebrothersgillespie.com