Brewers Daughter photo by Chris Lowe
Narrowboat folk is Brewers Daughter game. Rhiannon Crutchley is said daughter, who, between Tarantism engagements, emerged with her debut album Make Believe in 2016. This long-awaited follow-up builds upon that experience, sharpening the songs, and with Jara she presents a warm and moving collection of rootsy delight.
Clutching 12-string acoustic guitar close to her heart, the Northampton singer-songwriter creates atmospheric vignettes led by her unique and hard-to-ignore voice. Her lyrics are inviting at every turn; you find yourself hanging onto each and every line for wisdom and transcendence. Accompanying herself on fiddle on many tracks, the album is very much set in ancient English/Celtic traditions of folk. No processed beats here, pop-pickers. And why would you use them, when the purity of verse is so apparent from the voice/guitar/fiddle triptych?
It’s an album with little need to single out particular songs, as the sound is set from the opening to the close. Songs cover the autobiography and philosophy of the artist: whether that be travel and adventure [‘Cork’, ‘Burn The Wagon Down’], prejudice [‘Shells’, ‘Language’, ‘Flesh’], or friendship and love [‘Ring Of Roses’, ‘Tell Me’]. Her acapella rendition of the trad ‘Lowlands Away’ is a lovely break of style toward the end of the album.
Her guitar picking is not showy, but intricate enough to please the ear. Her fiddle-playing is…luscious, that’s probably the right word. The introduction to ‘Ehwaz’, two lines playing in unison, is stunning and stirring in equal measure. It’s a shame she can’t replicate herself and play both instruments live together!
A criminally-underrated part of the NN scene, Jara is a record that should propel Brewers Daughter into more hearts and minds. This record will brighten your day, over-flowing as it is with the communicative, regenerative power of music. When live music returns in the coming weeks, make sure you check her out wherever she plays!