Let’s get straight to the point with this album. Big Big Train delivered a complete masterpiece with Folklore. Nine mostly long tracks, making the album over one hour long. The artwork of the sleeve is wonderful. It also contains a booklet with the lyrics, great pictures of the band performing live and in the studio, and a lovely painting in the middle of the booklet. The music is a mixture of progressive rock and folk music. Wonderful arrangements perfectly executed by eight members and several guest musicians. You would almost think that the album was done by a complete symphonic orchestra! David Longdon is a fascinating singer with a robust voice. What makes this album also very enjoyable is that every track has its own story and is a freestanding gem.
Album opener Folklore is a powerful track that immediately drags your attention. The drums and percussion are well executed, carrying the song through its seven and a half minutes. London Plane starts calm. After four minutes the track gets a different turn, and turns more into a ballad like song, to change into a more up tempo instrumental piece not much later on. Along The Ridgeway drags you into a slightly melancholic mood. It already references to next song Salisbury Giant, in which it slowly emerges. Salisbury Giant has a lovely mixture of string arrangements and slightly haunting organ sounds. The main theme of Along The Ridgeway returns later on. The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun starts with a horn section intro. The choirs are very well executed and gives the song a special ambiance. Wassail is a bombastic track with a solid chorus you always want to sing along with. Winkie is my favourite song on this album. There’s a lot happening, because of theme and rhythm changes. Along with Wassail a quite energetic song that gives the album its power. Brooklands is the longest track. Again, a track that has many different passages, and a very beautiful piano solo. Telling The Bees is a lovely song, that’s very accessible. It carries a mellow and poppy vibe.
The album will be definitely in my top 10 of albums from 2016, just like the Wassail EP back in 2015. This is not something you can give one spin, you need to spin it a lot of times to get the complete picture. An album that I would recommend to anyone who likes music, no matter what genre… Ok, maybe someone who only likes hardcore punk or rap/hip-hop doesn’t know what to think of it, but you probably know what I mean. Big Big Train deserves a bigger audience, and I really hope I can see this band perform live someday. I heard from so many friends and colleagues that they are amazing to watch live!
***** Iris Hidding
- Folklore (7:31)
- London Plane (10:10)
- Along The Ridgeway (6:06)
- Salisbury Giant (3:37)
- The Transit Of Venus Across The Sun (7:18)
- Wassail (6:47)
- Winkie (8:26)
- Brooklands (12:39)
- Telling The Bees (6:02)
You can also read this review on the website of Background Magazine:
You can listen to Iris’ interview with lead singer David Longdon here:
You can watch the video clip of the title track Folklore here: