Keston Cobblers Club: Almost Home – album review
KESTON COBBLERS CLUB: ALMOST HOME
A more simplistic approach to their songwriting finds the five piece working round the theme of nostalgia and home yet maintaining the inimitable Cobblers’ style.
“Rambunctuous folk” was how 2015’s Wildfire album was described by The Guardian yet anyone expecting similar rambunctiousness might feel short changed. Almost Home brings to the table a different side to the Cobblers; one where the less is more philosophy seems to have borne fruit.
For once, the shiny happy people whose dollops of harumping interjections of brass regularly punctuate their work and bring a warmness to their live incarnation, take a break. In their place comes a pervading melancholy quality; calm yet not so far as maudlin, as the title track opens the album with a wave of optimism with what the band have called “everything we wanted to express with this record.”
Built round their regular m.o. of simple alternative indie folk, the slight shift sees Bicycles trundle along gently and while this song and in particular Demons have the potential to follow the joyous jubilation of Wildfire – you can feel that they could take off any moment – they remain buoyant in a more subtle fashion without moving into the more obvious/expected direction. They even go all Graceland cum calypso with a touch of funk on the folk-free On Your Own which starts to broaden the palette – a “little jump from the norm which are the backbones of our releases” – one also farmed on Hand That Feeds You whilst an electro techno influence makes a fleeting appearance on An Island.
On the one hand, they may have reined themselves in, there’s no doubt that with a couple of tracks, the boundaries have been pushed. Forest Hill might be the most significant in terms of ‘new direction’ – not quite the Spinal Tap Jazz Odyssey moment – but there’s a similar surprise when the atmospheric melody in All I Need visits Enya territory, rounding off a new experience with the Cobblers and provides another unanticipated highlight.
The concentration on stories and melodies whilst holding back on the production and more weighty arrangements casts the Cobblers in a new light where the carnival colours are less vibrant and take on a more sepia hue. More mature and measured, the bright young folk have shown that they have the aptitude to steer themselves in a more considered and ultimately more fulfilling quality.
You can watch the title track from the album here:
On tour in April:
18th Manchester Royal Northern College of Music
19th Brighton Komedia
20th Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
21st London Union Chapel
22nd Ashford St Mary’s Church
23rd Exeter Phoenix
25th Milton Keynes Stables
26th Nottingham Rescue Rooms
27th Kendal Brewery Arts
28th Durham Gala Theatre
29th Sheffield Greystones (3pm matinee AND 7.30pm evening show)
30th Bristol Colston Hall Lantern