published: 18 /
Greatest Endangered Thing
Sam Taylor and Rebecca Van Cleave have changed the name of their duo, but not their music, which builds on their considerable musical achievements as Ophelia
Rebecca Van Cleave and Samuel Taylor are now based in Sheffield but met on tour in the States. Both singer-songwriters in their own right, their international collaboration and personal chemistry has resulted in them creating some wonderful music together.
Once known as Ophelia, they released an EP of the same name in 2017, following it up with an album, 'Black Box Memories'.
There is a story behind the name change, and it isn’t a change of musical direction. They still embrace Americana and acoustic folk styles. The necessity of taking on a new name took them to one of Rebecca Van Cleave’s favourite poems, Nikita Gill’s ‘Your Soft Heart’.
Overwhelmed by a constant and intense awareness of polarity via news channels and the internet back in 2018, Van Cleave says, !We were actively having to seek out small pockets of goodness, warmth, humanity and shared connection."
One of the lines in the poem is "Kindness is the greatest endangered thing,"
The prefect name and inspiration for their new project.
Nikita Gill gave them her blessing.
And then along came the pandemic.
Van Cleave and Taylor moved to a friend’s house in Tideswell, in Derbyshire’s beautiful Peak District.
There they were able to develop their musical ideas without pressures of deadlines and expectations, evolving at their own pace.
They had planned to do a stripped down acoustic recording, but pandemic restrictions made it even more important to reach out to friends on both sides of the Atlantic.
Rebecca is from Staunton, Virginia. Adam Parker and Todd Glidewell collaborated from there. Jims Hinkle and Jay Austin added bass and violin. They worked with John Redgrave at his home studio in Sheffield and Tesla Studio with David Glover.
There’s a delicacy and strength about these five tracks, songs written during the pandemic at a time of reflective solitude for the couple.
"What would it be like to escape the digital noise and bustle of modern life and return to the stillness of things that truly matter – love, kindness, connection, universal humanity, and the beauty of the natural world that surrounds us?"
'Bramble Lane' captures a sense of the great outdoors, of tranquillity and even nostalgia. There’s a spaciousness in the vocal harmonies and synthesiser sounds that sets the mood for the EP. There’s also an evocative video featuring the couple in their Peak District retreat, made by Sheffield film maker Brett Chapman.
'Evelyn' highlights Van Cleave’s lovely voice. Green, ;Blue' is also accompanied by a video, using a perfect range of archive and pastoral images to illustrate the lyrics. It’s a song that has become a personal favourite along with the title track, 'And You, And Me'.
These are reflective and tranquil songs made in difficult times. They are comforting and thoughtful. There’s a hint of longing and nostalgia but the overall mood is optimistic. They are also very beautifully delivered. This debut EP under their new name fulfils the promise of their earlier work and delivers a collection of songs that express their hopes and wishes for their new project.
The Hawkmoon and The Hurricane
And You, And Me
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