Sharron Kraus

The Woody Nightshade

by David Maine

30 January 2011

 

Welsh psych-folk casts a spell

cover art

Sharron Kraus

The Woody Nightshade

(Strange Attractors)
US: 2 Nov 2010
UK: 2 Nov 2010

Welsh folkie Sharron Kraus betrays some heavy Espers influence on The Woody Nightshade, her latest full-length—or maybe Espers has been showing her influence. Who knows? Kraus played alongside Helen Espvall and Espers’ Meg Baird on Leaves from Off of the Tree, a 2006 collection of traditional songs, and she opens this record with a pair of tunes that could be outtakes from Espers’ excellent II. “Nothing” features atmospheric background accents underneath Kraus’ mournful keening-in-harmony, while “Two Brothers” spins a plaintive, contorted tale of complicated love, accompanied by urgent but understated electric guitar. The electric elements in both songs lend sonic interest but never sound out of place in the songs, all written by Kraus but moored so solidly in tradition that they sound as if they’ve been around for centuries.

The first half of the record proceeds with nary a misstep, and Kraus’ haunted, wistful voice is perfectly suited to the material. It’s unfortunate that a pair of songs slow things down at the midway point. “Story” and “The Woody Nightshade” meander along listlessly, sapping the record’s momentum, though the chugging follow-up “Teacher” helps recover lost energy. The record closes out well, despite the halfway-through hiccup, and anyone with an interest in the Brit-folk tradition would do well to give it a listen.

The Woody Nightshade

Rating:

 

We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times. Thanks everyone.

//comments
//related
//Mixed media
//Blogs

Beyoncé and When Music Writing Becomes Activism

// Sound Affects

"The overall response to Beyoncé's "Formation" has been startlingly positive, but mostly for reasons attached to political agendas. It's time to investigate this trend.

READ the article