Album Review of Meand’er: This Magic Path
This Magic Path is the first album from Devon based English duo, Meand’er.
Father and daughter, Graham Crocker and Hannah Power have been playing acoustic music together for many years although only recently as a duo. In previous incarnations they have been a support act for many well-known artists, including Martin Carthy, Seth Lakeman, Al Stewart, Roy Harper, Julie Felix and Roy Wood, to name a few.
The new album is a beautiful, gentle, acoustic affair. The 12 tracks are self-penned with lyrics by Hannah Power (apart from the instrumental in the song “Service and Bond,” which is a medley of three traditional Irish tunes: “The Eavesdropper,” “Saddle the Pony,” and “East at Glendart”).
Hannah and Graham play all the instruments on the album but have assistance from James Crocker, who adds guitar, mandolin, bass, and accordion on the tracks “Service and Bond” and “There Will Be A Spring.” They are also joined by the wonderful violin playing of Morwenna Millership on “Ed’s Song” and “The Boat That Brought Me Home.”
All the album’s songs are highly accomplished and have taken many years to reach the point where the duo were ready to commit to recording them. As the pair say on their Bandcamp page, “This album has been a long time in the making, partly because the arrangements developed naturally as we performed them. We finalised the recording of each track only when we were happy with the way it was sounding.”
Happy they should be, indeed. I really enjoyed the organic quality of the recording from the slight creak of a performers chair on the opening track “The Short and the Long” to the entrancing simple lone voice of Hannah on the final and title track, “This Magic Path.”
It is worth highlighting the spellbinding nature of Hannah Power’s voice. There is a contemporary resonance to it but it also rests in your soul as if you’ve been listening to it all your life. Warm and calming classic English folk tones but with so much more. A beautiful delivery that reflects her own inner voice. There is a natural tone and accent, a genuineness that makes it unique and appealing. This sense of realness carries through the words of each song and makes the album iridescent with heartfelt and personal experiences. On first listen you get a sense of eavesdropping into a personal world, and you know that further listens will reward you with rich detail.
There is so much lyrical content to try and cover in one short review, but in short I would sum it all up as brilliantly refreshing. They avoid cliche and they spark imagery and intriguing storytelling. So often writers fall back on easy solutions, and you get that feeling that you’ve heard it all before. Not so here; for instance, the biographical intensity of “Ed’s Song” with Hannah wanting to “be more rock n roll” but instead having bus fares and P.E kits to find with a forlorn cry of “I’m an ageing single mother trying to make it good.”
The unique lyrics are gently couched within a melodic tapestry created through a delicate approach of guitar with well thought out acoustic embellishment, be it mandolin, violin, or accordion. The sequencing of the album tracks is also key and effortlessly takes you on the journey. The mix of instrumentation and delivery means you are always met with intrigue and a smile of a new familiarity as one song ends and the next begins. All very beguiling.
A great debut album of sparkling unique, new English folk music.