By Edward Bennigsen
I spent most of my childhood holidays with family in Wales, the Lake District, and the Scottish Hebrides. Nowhere expensive, nowhere exotic, nowhere far away, but beautiful in their rugged simplicity and hidden danger.
Songs of Silt is the debut EP from the eight piece folk band Oh Man, the Mountain, and in a sense it reminds me of the places I used to go to, and still love going to. The music isn’t flashy or over the top; instead it’s authentic and down to earth, simple but complex.
Being an *eight* piece, there’s a great depth to the sound – most groups aren’t willing to throw together electric guitar and oboe in one song, but these guys pull it off incredibly well. The doubling up of male and female lead singers on the same melody line, almost like The xx, gives the lyrics a really great texture. Their sound is so engaging and different compared to dime-a-dozen man-with-a-banjo folk.
The EP opens up with John, a bouncy tune with foot-stomping brass and lyrical accordion. Arguably the best track on the EP, it references John the Baptist “eating those locusts” and baptising his followers “by the old oak tree”. After that is Fallen Leaves, a sunny ballad with some jazz organ style keys, and a great violin and oboe duet in the middle. Up next is Lion Spoke, a really energetic track about death and posterity. A haunting oboe and brass line complements the driving guitar pushing it forwards; the breakdown on this one is particularly good. Closing off the EP is Lake District, a song about, well, the Lake District. Evoking a long day spent hiking, this track reminds me of my happy childhood holidays.
Overall the EP is a great debut for a folk band with a lot of promise. Their authentic and original lyrics are complemented by an intriguing instrumentation.