Harp And A Monkey – Harp And A Monkey(Folk Police)

Harp And A Monkey


Sincerely Mancunian in both spirit and burr, the epoch spanning trio of Harp and a Monkey bequeath endearing, poetic narrations that marry themes from an erstwhile past to contempoary life. Essentially, this new album, is an historical travail-rich – inherently northern – hill climb through the last three centuries; from the Georgian to present day.

Unfortunatly, in some ways, for them it’s impossible to get away from the overbaring presence of Elbow (especially when the Harp And A Monkey’s vocalist, Martin Purdy, has such a similar timbre and accent as Guy Garvey). However, our band of ruffians take their inspiration and lead from the Bert Jansch‘s and Sparklehorse‘s of an re-imagined industrial revolution – where steam-engineered lo-fi electronica meets the stoic poise and dignity of the antiquated working class – as opposed to Elbow’s more self-effaced anthemic choral paeans; left-over from the Brit-pop era.

The LP’s eleven-songs feature references and credits to a number of quintessentially British institutions: Ordance survey maps, the BBC, the M62, A.A Milne and the Commonwealth War Graves Commision are all acknowledged. Each of these odes, and laments, is formed around a concomitant memoir, ancestral text, or real-life incident, played out plaintively and tentativly over a mostly twinkly plucked and carressed harp backing.

At times these, often ernest songs, can become sentimental: such as on the childrens chorus twee Katy’s Twinkly Band, and on the wistfully pastoral, romantic adage of Serenade For A Winter’s Day.  Sentiment aside, the trio stir-up a mainly, down-played version of sentiment on most of the album: especially on the recounted WWI, battle of Passchendale mournful The Soldier’s Song, and on the blood and sweat plight of the forgotten navvy, panegyric Digging Holes. There’s also room for the odd bit of wry denouncement: A Better Life (The Bride’s Lament) for example is a meloncholic weary folk version of Marcel Duchamp’s  ‘The Bride Stipped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even’ installation; a bitter rebutt at the themes of marriage.

Harp And A Monkey’s richly woven tapestry of a tome, sounds like a canal trip through a constantly churning archeological dig to the humble tones of toil and hard graft.

Out Now



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