Brit multi-instrumentalist folkster C. Joynes has released an intriguing, all-instrumental album in Congo, one that reinterprets various sonic textures in the trad-folk canon. Opening track “The Linden Tree” sounds a lot like the English traditional folk-guitar picking of, say, John Renbourn. “Joseph in the Sea of Corn” follows trad template as well, with its banjo plucking and lilting penny whistle. Things get more unpredictable with later tracks like “Ghosts of the Field,” with its discordant elements and meandering—at times nonexistent—time signature, or the folk-inflected yet difficult-to-categorize “And the Moon Was Full and Round.”
It’s an open question whether this album is a compelling listen, for all its sonic variety and unwillingness to fit into expected categories. The lack of vocals places the onus squarely upon the instrumental performances to carry the listener, and while some of the tunes are memorable enough, the less-is-more approach that dominates the record gets strained over the course of an entire album. Still, listeners seeking a set of well-performed acoustic music—and perhaps a bit of experimentation—will find much to like here.
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