Album/EP Reviews European Folk Music Political

Will Pound- A Day Will Come (album review)

Breathlessly broad yet uniting; Pound’s love letter to the European idea and its people touches the soul.

Released 8th May (Will Pound Lulubug Records).

Will Pound’s Art’s Council funded work is an unbridled joy filled with light and cheers from every corner of your favourite continental bar. Much like our favourite A L’Imaige Nostre-Dame in Brussels, it is classic in its appeal and with grace contains a strong selection of beers (sets) to warrant it’s reputation amongst those that stop to admire the decor.   

More like The World’s Fair then your local continental market, Pound et al. make the call which brings all the winds of the Continent here and somewhere in its veins it carries a regal (but not austere) character that sets the mind racing. It is unashamedly a political album in the sense that the intention of the artist seems to be to showcase the strength of unity of the EU and the commonality of the musical identities throughout Europe. It accomplishes this by not just highlighting Pound’s own harmonica and melodeon skills (which are considerable) but several other talents are taking part such as Zhivko Zhelev (Dobrudja State Folk Ensemble), Dame Evelyn Glennie, Patsy Reid and Jenn Butterworth amongst many others.  It is up to the listener if they wish to bring politics into reviews, but it seems a disservice to brush over Pound’s vision as just a collection of technical sets that have sprung up independent of each other. In the booklet there is a written ode to our European brethren who came to our shores and the contribution they have given, the values and peculiarities they have adopted and Pound sees their value alongside the Countries he reveals in their musical mastery. 

Pound takes the styles and tunes of 27 EU member states he has researched and weaves them into a fine tapestry (like those 15th Century Netherland wonders) that starts from the sense of familiarity and builds on this until the tunes become etched in your ears. There is a lot we like here. One of our favourite sets on the album is Kaap’ren Varen/El Candil (Netherlands/Spain). The first sounds like a wild boar frolicking in the undergrowth of a national park, it twists and turns and occasionally puts his head above the roots to watch you with his dark eyes. Used as a children’s song it has a melodic hook which doesn’t so much grab as clasps you with both hands in welcome. As we get to the second part of the set, things get a little brighter, a bit like stepping on a folk revolving platform the tune  reflects light all round like a European disco ball. Jenn Butterworth’s guitar chases like a surreptitious, impromptu dance in the amongst the Spanish trees. A great number.

Bohdan Piasecki

We also recommend Krakowiak/Ellin Polkka (Poland/Finland) as a spinning show of grandeur. Intensive harmonica combines with crisp guitars and sporadic, sweet violin. Linking to the Finland track with a tale of migration the tune becomes more bombastic like a bevy of white swans just beginning to take flight. Characterful and suave it chases you whilst dressed in one fine tuxedo. The second half is in particular a toe-tapping smile and shuffle that would not be out of place in the late moments of the folk festival tent as your family whirls around you in tired happiness. Full of hammering instruments and the bullet-speed spoken word (from Polish poet, Bohdan Piasecki) it pleases, and in it’s urgency it seems to captivates from all angles. The Malta/Estonia track is no less intricate, especially with mind boggling notation on the accordion. Starting as something slower and more familiar it morphs into a free-reed bonanza as it progresses onward and upward.  The Greece/Cyprus track is similarly note heavy and a technical joy in a fascinating set which is somehow both positive and somewhat despondent in the same breath, however you want to open your ears to it.

Credit: Philipp Rathmer

Like a man running from a duel down the back alleys of Bucharest, Romania/Bulgaria is a percussion-led, clattering, happy little romp that then explodes into a historical fantasy with a longboat’s crew moving in time as the drums get louder and the oars pull. In the moment of the track the exquisite, adroit percussion of Eveleyn Glennie seems unmatched in the cosmos. Pound’s harmonica dances alongside in a way that is both light and intricate, a fine addition to the tracks within.

There is plenty here as well; 14 sets of two tunes is generosity, joy and warmth that continues to be memorable long when after the CD laser has stopped. We got swept up in the purpose and the celebration, maybe not everyone will; but we cannot think of anyone in their right mind who could not at the smallest absolute least, appreciate the very fine production and mixing that has been done here (Andie Thompson), each instrument really is an actor in the play at the Vienna State Opera.

In case you couldn’t tell, we were keen on this album. The year is still relatively young, but for us, this is most likely the best album we have heard so far. Pound’s own performance is stellar, his guests are so fresh and green they are positively hacking bamboo shoots in the China wetlands, and the breadth of songs is fantastic. Importantly, the depth and clarity from the sound engineering make everything sound exactly as it should, bravo.

Will Pound’s tour is on hiatus due to the Coronavirus epidemic, we recommend keeping an eye on his website at

Will Pound’s album can be purchased from a number of stockists, we recommend to purchase from Bandcamp here

If your interest is piqued then check out the sample video below:

NOTE: We do not claim or imply ownership over the photos used in this article. If we have been unable to credit you, then please contact us in order to reference you properly at .

Album/EP Reviews British Dark Folk European Folk Music Uncategorised

KARA – Some Other Shore – “a deep thematic album of tragedy and triumph” – review

Released June 2016

KARA return with another excellent album called “Some Other Shore” (their debut was also nautical sounding, “Waters So Deep”). The particularities that make the sound and ideas appealing can be boiled down into the three-part approach taken to their writing and recording of folk music. The first part is that their music is heavily thematic in that the lyrics are often worked and adapted from literature and tragic tales from England, Russia and beyond (in a similar vein to wonderful Emily Portman). The second part is that there is a spirited arrangement that uses instruments such as the dulcimer and melodeon that you might not always expect or hear when picking up some acoustic folk which makes it slightly unusual and dfferent. The heavy theme and instrumentation combine together to explain their third angle; a juxtaposition of dark emotion, fantasy and myth that give them an idiosyncratic but incredibly rich and dream-like sound.

On the album we have Daria Kulesh on lead vocals, Ben Honey (guitar), Phil Underwood (melodeon), and Kate Rouse (dulcimer, vocals). Produced and recorded by Jason Emberton (with some additional support from Phil Underwood and Lauren Deakin Davis) it has guest appearances from Lukas Drinkwater and James Delarre within the album which KARA have been promoting on their tour (there are still a couple of venues left, and more the be announced here). 

How is the album? Daria Kulesh’s voice is as expressive as ever as it pirouettes on a delicate higher register, the songs vary enormously in rhythm, optimism and tradition and the reach of the vision and image is very far indeed. It manages to be haunting, insightful, and fine balance between modern and old. As Daria Kulesh and KARA like themes, let us consider some of the songs next with some loose themes they could sit next to:

The Dancing Numbers

“Lovers’ Task/Black Tea Waltz” is both a reinterpretation and a dance. “Lovers” is a gracious, sensual and capable version of Scarborough Fair as collected by Cecil Sharpe though the band has cast a Russian spell upon it. Like seeing a creature of habit wearing a brand new coat, this telling of one the most well-known popular songs in folk consciousness is trying something different as it lists the slightly different, “setherwood, sale, rosemary, and thyme” as the trademark herbs. It works remarkably. It could be Kulesh’s precise, alpine and lingering lyrics; it could be Kate Rouse’s arrangement or (one of the keystones of KARA) the use of the hammered dulcimer, or it could be the fact that it never hold up. Like a young child dancing in spring it moves and jumps in exhibition without a care. In transition the track moves to the Black Tea Waltz where it becomes like an endless, yawing revolution of joy and light. It is constructed like a book, it opens and unfolds and sings to you throughout and is a great track for it.

Likewise Phil Underwood’s “Hollingbourne/Broadhurst Gardens” is a candidate for a new favourite tune to dance to. The melodeon jigs stirringly and the tracks are imbibed with the both the rural and urban elements of folk music. It seems to speak first of a story of mystery and pursuit (like clue searching in a Parisian hedge maze) before skipping to the amber lights of taverns in town serving a sea of foaming beer. A great original number and a track that should gain a following in the dancing communities.

Tragedy and Triumph

There is as always in KARA’s works a sense of characters and their experiences. Daria’s particular strengths as main vocalist are in her contrasting portrayals of women which are then bravely all added to a single album. Tragic or triumphant she has the range to bring the gloom or fury in equal measure. “Goodbye and Forgive Me” is an example of tragedy as a song of a woman in an unpleasant marriage who seeks the freedom of another man (which does not bode well), “Now this crime it was discovered, swift accusal and arrest, and in exile my false lover, took another to his breast.” The song is based on Nikola Leskov’s 19th Century book, “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk district” that inspired Daria during the recent successful “Company of Players” event celebrating Shakespeare. Interesting and sad in it’s deliberation it is a tremendous contrast to track 9. 

“Stormteller” is the fury to the previous song’s gloom. A pacy, onomatopoeic number it shows Daria Kulesh echoing the rhythm of the weather in song while she gallops through a speedy, relentless race. Throughout there is a sense of the storm and by the end of the track Daria has pretty much gone full shaman on us. Like Nostrodamus’ secret muse the song is as evocative as ever as it starts from a few quiet drops to a full blown melodic tempest as it builds. The guitar strums are not unlike a mariachi band as Daria applies her voice like the Western Mexico sun as she calls down the the elements, “I am of the black skies, I am of the hail, I am of the thunder, I am of the gale, I am a storyteller, it is them I control.” It’s sense of power is not unlike Sandy Denny’s “John the Gun” but more like Ange Hardy’s earthy Goddess tones of Bare Foot Folk’s “Mother Willow Tree”. A good track for nature lovers.

Traditional and Jazzy

KARAs’ folk music that is undeniable, especially as they do a fair share of recording of traditional numbers too. “Seaview” is one of the songs on the album that brings the shoreline of the title into view (and a delightfully fanciful album cover it is too) and speaks of that familiar, welcoming maybe imaginary place we go to. It is a light and chirpy song that flickers with a nostalgia for old times with family as children, the seaside and the briny air. Peaceful and thoughtful it can be considered along with the folk dance numbers as a familiar but good example of a lightly traditional number. In contrast “Devilry Dance”, the penultimate track is going to different seas and cities for it’s inspiration.

A folk album with surprises is a bright thing indeed, and when there is a swing number as part of that surprise, it positively shines. Don’t get me wrong, KARA are not the first band to experiment and include multiple genres on a disc and won’t be the last, but this is a good lyrical showcase amongst many on the others as it describes the ghastly dance in it’s commanding tones, “it has no rhythm in the normal sense, the steps are as long as they are wide.” It has New York cellar bars all over it proving that KARA rebelliously puts its feet in different countries and times and is not content with being the already well established English/Russian lovechild that it is.


“Some other shore” is quite ruminating. It will appeal to trad-folk fans that is for certain, but it’s appeal goes beyond the nods of the heads it gives to the Waltzs and the knowing looks to songs about salty sailors and the trades of old. It is a prime example of expert synthesis of literary and emotional experience which is confidently playing with some alternative instrumentation that holds you in a magical gaze. More confident than the debut, and deeply magical to the ear; it is an accomplished work. 

Check it out, it won’t disappoint!

Album Title: Some Other Shore

Producer: Jason Emberton

Recorders and Engineers: Jason Emberton, Phil Underwood, Lauren Deakin Davies

Mastered at: The Green Room

Track 1: Tamara’s Wedding

Track 2: Seaview

Track 3: Lovers’ Tasks/Black Tea Waltz

Track 4: Goodbye and Forgive Me

Track 5: Adrienne

Track 6: Hollingbourne/Broadhurst Gardens

Track 7: Misery and Vodka

Track 8: Carousel Waltz

Track 9: Stormteller

Track 10: Leigh Fishermen

Track 11: Devilry Dance

Track 12: Ataman

The album is available from KARA’s website directly here for £10.