Monday, 6 January 2014

Snowapple - Snowapple

Album review by

The traditionalist beards-and-warm-beer folkies still have their never-changing brand of acoustic music to wrap themselves up in, and there's some very good examples around, but those wanting a more modern form of the genre will have seen it butchered in all kind of ways these past few years. Again though, there are some great examples of modern folk music to be found if you look for it. This is where Amsterdam trio Snowapple come in. The three ladies who formed the band came from slightly different musical backgrounds, but all three are trained vocalists and can play an array of different instruments. This not only lends itself to the composition of more interesting songs than some bands might create, but also means that they can layer these songs in some quite beautiful three-part harmonies.

Musically there's a variety to 'Snowapple' that doesn't dip in standard no matter which direction they take it. For example, the slow and dreamy opener 'Again' gently massages your ears with its melody and comparatively simple structure (something we hear again on the haunting 'Het kleine witte zeil'), but it's followed by an almost country-inflected song in 'Turn The Tables' where they're really allowed to show what that combination of voices can do. Banjo and a more solid beat provide the accompaniment here and the structure also begins to become a touch more complex and fulfilling, not least during the instrumental break. Then a more playful side appears. 'Bluebirds, Blackbirds' is slightly magical and belongs in a dream sequence from a fairytale; the highlights of the album are when Snowapple move more into the realms of fantasy and really stamp their own hallmark on these songs.

What also makes this such a delightful album is when they do allow themselves to step up the pace and drop in poppier numbers that don't detract from either the atmosphere or quality one bit. 'Baby Blue' is a prime example of this. There's plenty of darkened atmosphere to be found on 'Old Lady' and the song has a more continental feel, again it taps into the whole fairytale vibe. With the vocals in French, 'Le clown et la fleuriste' also has something more continental about it, and this isn't solely down to the lyrics, the music follows suit. Those voices are given the chance to shine on the more traditional sounding 'The Surface' and the lightness of touch Snowapple apply to their arrangements is highlighted well by the lovely 'Virginia'. The album ends with Snowapple showing us that playful side one final time on the strangely tropical 'Better When We're Older', completing ten songs that are delicate, inventive and really quite enchanting.

Snowapple's website

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