West Wales outfit Little Arrow are that rare thing, a genuinely heartwarming group informed by an ancient folk tradition but not consumed by it. An act seemingly completely oblivious to the prevailing trends, making music for the sake of expression and in an attempt to affect the listener.Their fine album ‘Music, Masks & Poems’ released earlier this year on the quality Cardiff inprint Bubblewrap is the product of a genuinely communal effort(made up of friends and family members, including Margret Hughes his mother who provides a comforting female tone in the ether throughout). That produce wonderfully tender intertwining gospel harmonies, and intricate unfussy instrumentation, such that each brush of a cymbal and strum of a chord is allowed space to shiver unfettered. Little Arrow’s heart on their sleeve opus’ bring to mind journeys across oceans, recall visions of vast awe inspiring landscapes, and yee old medieval battles.These narratives are led by one man William Hughes(previously of Fredrick Stanley star) but backed by a gathered group of players, he sings in a wounded tone, first hushed then brave, warm and swelling toward choral, like a man peering into your soul at the dead of night and offering you advice from the bottom of a bottle. Or a uncle returning from voyage and regailing you with his travails in the past few years, as with opener ‘Bitten Blues’.
But its not overly serious its human and delightful: spine tingling instrumentation brushing upon your skin, and vocies that quivering the heart. see the personal introspective strums of ‘Dear Old Diary’ that comes replete with wonky harmonica blows. If you must have comparisons you could mention the tenderness and ragged communal harmonies of Crosby Stills and Nash, The nortical themes of Robert Wyatt, the hand-in-hand campfire male/female harmonies of 70s English folkies like the Fairport Convention. But comparisons are useless Little Arrow are weaving a intricate, literate, and open hearteded tapestry of song with pearless highlights. Like the shoulder to shoulder anthem ‘Aeroplane’ that carries you aloft up mountains on a wave of militaristic drum sweeps, twinkling xylophones and swelling brothers in arms chorus.’ The wonderfully precient ‘Vessel of Fear’ that’s sprawling journey through a sign of the times narrative, that’s tenderly illuminated by joined at the hip vocal interplay of this family affair, it feels somewhat apt in uncertain times(‘We are vessels of fear/Where we go I’m not sure?If we’ll have the choice to return.”)I urge you to join them, they might just help you find your way home.