'...this is a dream of a record. So perfectly formed is it that, chances are, the listener will need to go around again immediately, to make sure they weren't imagining anything' BBC Music Magazine
'What should be obvious to anyone who listens to Almanac, whether they are a folk fan or not, is that Emily Barker is a confident and accomplished songwriter.' Drowned in Sound
Within Almanac there are stories of love, renewal, the importance of community and our relationship to the earth. Shadowing these lighter themes are darker truths of untold atrocities committed by settlers on indigenous Australians during colonisation, the mass hysteria regarding a Scottish witch-hunt, flourishing love and good old-fashioned heartbreak.
Although fronted by Emily, this is definitely a group album, with the four members of Emily, Gill, Jo and Anna providing guitar, accordion & flute, cello and violin respectively, with backing vocals shared out across the eleven songs. The quartet are joined throughout the disc by guest musicians who add a range of guitars, percussion and double bass, that add depth and drive to the collection. Emily is a compelling songwriter with a gift for melody and words. Her talent is perfectly complimented by the magnificent arrangements of The Red Clay Halo. Throughout the album, the interplay between the band's rootsy ensemble playing, and Barker's agile vocal blend of strength and fragility, is effortlessly engaging. In moments when the four female voices combine to deliver arresting harmonies, it is simply blissful.
Highlights include the dreamy textures of ‘Billowing Sea', the nimble arrangements of 'Reckless', and the atmospheric lyrics of 'Witch of Pittenweem'. Almanac is a beautifully constructed and charming album, it certainly feels organic and natural, and the presentation of the songs is unaffected and with a real genuine air.
Upon its release Almanac immediately attracted strong support from BBC Radio with sessions for Cerys Matthews on 6 Music and Radio 4's Loose Ends, and single 'Little Deaths' was picked as 'Record of the Week' on Nemone's 6 Music show. The album was also named 'Editor's Choice' by BBC Music Magazine.
View the booklet in full here.