20 Nov 2014

Album Review: Junkboy "Sovereign Sky"

Reviewed by Nathan Ford

Brothers Rich & Mik Hanscomb have been recording together as Junkboy since 1999, with their latest "Sovereign Sky" being a particular treat of lovely, pastoral folkadelica. Stretching back through a lineage that includes the likes of Nick Drake, Tunng, and Candidate, the brothers Hanscomb create a relaxed atmosphere of bucolic charm, with a deep, melancholy undercurrent that gives "Sovereign Sky" added depth.

Here, the brothers are joined by several of their friends on strings, who increase the scope of the Hanscomb's songs exponentially, without losing the sense of intimacy that is key to their songs. I've seen Robert Kirby's arrangements for Nick Drake's songs used as a reference point for the resulting sound, but to my ears these strings have a much more dramatic effect.

And the songs themselves? Well, they're based in the contemporary U.K folk / singer/songwriter tradition, but the Hanscombs are open to stretching in whatever direction the song requires, whether that be the Beta Band meets "American Beauty" era Grateful Dead of "Salt Water", or the sunny, quirky Bossa Nova of "Belo Horizonte". This sense of adventure reminds me a lot of the approach of Field Music, although Junkboy's music has an unhurried grace about it that makes it sound like the perfect accompaniment to a Summer afternoon's nap in a gentle breeze in a field somewhere. Focus on the songs though, and you'll notice all sorts of intricate embellishments, and clever arrangement touches which promise that "Sovereign Sky" will continue to surprise and delight. Quite lovely.

Available December 1 from Enraptured Records.

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