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Elle Osborne - It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 5 / 2 / 2016



Elle Osborne - It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice
Label: 9th House Recordings
Format: CD

intro

Magical third album from traditional folk artist Elle Osborne’s third album, which apart from one cover, is her first to feature her own material`


There was a time, a lifetime ago, when it was easy to keep abreast of any new artists in your own favourite musical genre. The introduction of the internet has made it easy to check out and discover new music; of that there is no argument, but there’s just so much of it readily available now that it’s impossible to keep up. Word of mouth, the music weeklies and local clubs was how new music was discovered way back then, and, with far fewer artists able to get their music heard (or even trying), it was possible to check out most new artists in some way. Not being an expert on folk music, I have always being fascinated by the genre and the dedication of those involved in that field, which has introduced me to many brilliant artists. Now there’s a new generation keeping folk music alive, adding a contemporary slant to what many would label folk music. New artists like Hattie Briggs and Kelly Oliver, to name but two who have crossed this path recently, will surely have their audience checking out those who inspired the music these artists are making exciting once again. So it’s a little embarrassing, although honest, to have to say that ‘It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice’ is the third solo album from the English singer-songwriter Elle Osborne, but the first time this writer has heard her. What sets Elle apart from the new artists who have been influenced by the folk music of the past is that Elle sounds like she is from that era. There is little concession to modernise her sound at all. Backed by some of the cream of Glasgow’s music scene, a couple of the Trembling Bells, Alasdair Roberts and recorded by David Lynch (who has worked with Ed Harcourt) on England’s south coast, this is an album which could have been recorded at any time during the last sixty years, yet it still sounds remarkably fresh and of the moment. Although her third solo album, ‘It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice’ is the first to feature Elle’s own songs. There are eight songs written by Elle and a reading of the traditional song ‘Come Write Me Down’, all produced and arranged by Elle. Elle’s grandmother Katherine Compton is the cover star. The black and white image on the sleeve shows her in a drinking competition at Sidmouth Festival in the 1960s, and somehow strangely conveys the music inside, but far from being drunken folk sing-alongs the music contained is a thing of rare beauty. Katherine Compton, by the way, was responsible for booking the Watersons and Peter Bellamy’s first folk club gigs, another indication of Elle’s genuine folk roots. Trembling Bell Alex Neilson has said that Elle’s vocals are “a cross between Lal Waterson and Nico” and he should know, but there are also hints of many of the female folk singers of the 60s in there too. Anne Briggs and Shelagh McDonald are just two that come immediately to mind. While maybe the biggest surprise to those familiar with Elle’s past work is the fact that her own songs match the traditional folk songs; her reading of the Copper Family’s ‘Come Write Me Down’, the only non-original here, fits in seamlessly with Elle’s original songs. For those who are newcomers to Elle’s work it’s her voice that initially impresses. It really is a unique instrument. Taking a line from ‘Come Write Me Down’ for the title of the album, Elle’s voice is accompanied only by her own cello and fiddle playing on this cut which only goes to highlight the purity in her vocals even more. It’s a remarkable performance. The first song, ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ has a Christmassy feel as it starts, before Elle’s vocals appear and for those yet to hear her voice for the first time it’s akin to hearing Dylan or Neil Young for the first time. It’s one of those sit up and take notice moments. For all the classic female folk comparisons, there’s still something special and unique about Elle’s voice. Couple Elle’s distinctive vocal with those of Alasdair Roberts and it’s simply irresistible. The last minute of vocal interplay between the two singers is a work of art. A couple of sea songs follow, ‘Salt’ and ‘This Ship Is On A List’, which could well be traditional songs given a contemporary twist, especially given the contribution from Alex Neilson on percussion. The stripped-down opening of ‘And Everything’ features initially Elle’s voice and fiddle and is eventually joined by Jew’s harp, slide guitar and gorgeous percussion before turning into her own unique take on a hoedown. ‘The Hired Hand’, shorn of any musical embellishments, again proves that when it comes to pure folk Elle has little competition. ‘Toast (The Ballad Of Michael ‘Mini’ Cooper)’ tells the true story of a child arsonist, incarcerated from the age of 10 for setting a house on fire where his abusive father was sleeping. Delivered as a waltz, you can’t help but be touched as Elle retells the tale. As with the other songs on the album, it highlights just how talented Elle is lyrically. The closer, ‘All One’, ends the album in a surprising way, Mike Hastings’ slashing guitar (recalling Chris Britton’s contribution to ‘Wild Thing’?) only serves to bring out the haunting qualities in Elle’s vocals even more. It’s a brilliant way to end the album, which concludes with the line “it’s one small space and a letter between all one and alone.” ‘It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice’ is one of the most addictive albums to be released in recent times. Even those who would usually give folk albums a miss will find plenty to appreciate here. Now to search out those other two, earlier albums…



Track Listing:-
1 I Don't Like Sundays
2 Salt
3 This Ship Is On A List
4 Come Write Me Down
5 The Hired Hand
6 And Everything
7 Toast (The Ballad Of Michael 'Mini' Cooper)
8 Undone
9 All One


Band Links:-
http://elleo.com/elleo/home/home.html
http://www.last.fm/music/elleosborne
https://www.youtube.com/user/elleoable
https://www.facebook.com/elleosbornemusic/



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