Young Waters - Young Waters (YW Records)

Young Waters – Young Waters (YW Records)

Some albums really do need to exist in the correct time and space to have a shot at showing their best. The slide into the murky depths of winter after the sweatily joyful summer of 2018 requires some reflective fare. Right on cue, this self-titled debut by Young Waters arrives. Disco beach-party romp this is not. It may not be a perfect album but the occasionally rather introspective gloom has at least arrived in the correct month.

Young Waters plough a harmonious, minor-key version of English folk with layer upon layer of vocals atop musing strings. In their own way, songs like opener and overwhelming highlight ‘Dust‘ do have an almost ecstatic air even with a rather mournful ingredients list. The power of voices darting around and tumbling over each even as the violins slope about. A very beautiful cascade of singing. Perhaps Young Waters is just holding onto the coat-tails of summer gone after all.

Dust‘ probably is the jolliest song here, however. The band, for the most part, serve up a more rootsy Joni Mitchell looking out a rainy window type vibe. Nothing wrong with that except Joni Mitchell has looked out at the damp quite a lot already. It’s defiantly West Country with the touches of whimsy you might expect from that folky tradition.

There are not enough interesting quirks here to attach a neo prefix. This is a traditional record. You yearn for even more but Theo Passingham doing a decent impersonation of a countryish Anohni on ‘Don’t Stare at the Sun‘ whilst singing about “lithium and cigarettes” provides a welcome jolt. The sort of curveball that pricks up the ears. Ears that have been enjoying the record rather than marvelling at it. A little more of this all too fleeting creativity would be welcome.

Young Waters are a fixture on the British scene now, particularly since they thankfully changed their name from Snufkin, but celebration within a fine but small ghetto has its obvious limitations. The raggle-taggle walls tend to be rather thick and purist. Whether Young Waters, the album, vaults them towards the wider public is hard to say. No longer sounding like a Tolkien character is a great step but some more focus on non-folkish tropes wouldn’t go amiss. Keeping the menu but updating the recipes a touch.

This goes down as a record that shuns the opportunity to be revolutionary and go full iconoclastic. Indeed, its toe-dipping into just mildy surprising waters are gentle even whilst being successful. That may be the intention, of course, in which case, it’s a fully realised triumph. But, there is decent songwriting here and the gorgeous and thrilling vocal harmonies surely deserve a bit more oomph.


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.