CHARM OF FINCHES
Your Company (Conversations With Trees)
The second album from (alarmingly young – with neither yet 20) Melbourne siblings, Mabel and Ivy Windred-Wornes, positions them on the cover almost as wan Victorian figures of not-quite-temporal presence and solemn mien.
Inside, their oft-entwined voices that sound wholly separate from smoke-filled cities, feuding politicians and overcrowded buses, instrumentation which foregoes overt in-studio moves, and tempos which lean to the contemplative, complete a picture of if not an escape from modernity then at the very least a lack of concern for it.
If this – not to mention that band name - suggests a cousin of Ys, Joanna Newsom’s archaic, ambitious and sometimes confounding 2006 album, it would be half right.
That is, like Ys – a record Newsom has never tried to match - Your Company exists in its own space and at its own pace. But unlike the American, the sisters work in more conventional structures of folk music touched by pop and lightly brushed by classical. If it’s not modern, it’s not yet positively medieval.
They cite Agnes Obel and Sufjan Stevens as fellow travellers, to which you could add First Aid Kit (in the paired voices and deployment of Americana’s roots), and to a certain extent fellow Melburnians, My Friend The Chocolate Cake (in the easy criss-crossing of cello, guitar, glockenspiel and piano) and Laura Jean (with their comfort taking emotional openness and vocal vulnerability as starting points).
None of those acts are known for jollity, sure, but while death is at the heart of Your Company, canvassed in the wandering folk of Her Quiet Footsteps (whose trumpet and cello are like conversational outposts), the reflective interior pop of In The Gloaming and the post-life message of Good Luck On Your Own, as well as subtext in several other songs, there’s no overhanging heaviness.
Instead, the album has the easiness of casual intimacy, punctuated by moments of shimmering beauty such as the fluid shape of Slip Like Water, the delicacy of Lies and the hazy morning bluegrass of the title track.
There’s a lot to like about Charm Of Finches. And this is just a beginning really.