8

Josienne Clarke / Kit Downes: Such A Sky

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Sometimes life's great pleasures creep up almost unnoticed. One day they're not there, next day it seems like they've been around forever. Such A Sky is one such pleasure. A five-track EP, it's the debut release from BBC Folk Award winning singer Josienne Clarke and Mercury Prize nominated keyboardist Kit Downes.

Clarke announced the release of Such A Sky on her Twitter feed with a lovely lack of hyperbole: "I've made a little EP with pianoer Kit Downes we've only made 500 and you can buy it now." Damned by faint self-congratulation? Unlikely— Such A Sky may be short, but the quality is exceptionally high.

Such A Sky features three Clarke/Downes originals along with two reinterpretations. All five benefit from the duo's minimalist and unhurried approach, the mix of vocals and keyboards always given plenty of space. "Do Not Delay" is an interpretation of Mozart's aria "Deh Vieni Non Tardar." Clarke's plaintive vocal and Downes' sympathetic keyboard gives it a timeless aura, a feeling that it could have been written 500 years ago or yesterday. The duo's take on Lionel Bart's "Who Will Buy" highlights the despair that underlines the singer's plea.

Downes has said that Clarke ..."can sing a Michael Jackson song or a Dowland lute ballad and give them the same feeling." She writes lyrics that are strong on imagery, sometimes clear and precise at other times more opaque and mysterious. It's a quality shared with one of Britain's finest singers and songwriters, the great Lal Waterson. "Lines and letters promising to never be untrue, like a message in a bottle that will never, ever get to you. Instead, unread it sails off into the blue" she sings on the exquisite "Out Of View": Downes follows with a piano figure that readily evokes that lost, bobbing, bottle—the song ends with Clarke's quirky, swooping, vocal harmonies. The enigmatic "Beyond The Green" is filled with superb lines—"So I willed these walls to weeping and all their worries came undone..." is a personal favorite, but there are plenty more and once again Downes (on piano and harmonium) heightens their impact.

Downes closes Such A Sky with a brief, slightly spooky, coda on "Undo" that harks back to his church organ and saxophone duo work with Tom Challenger. The Clarke/Downes partnership ventures into different territory, creating its own world of rich harmonies, striking images and beautifully-crafted songs.

Track Listing: Out Of View; Beyond The Green; Who Will Buy; Do Not Delay; Undo.

Personnel: Josienne Clarke: vocals; Kit Downes: piano, organ, harmonium.

Title: Such A Sky | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Skip James

Skip James

Kit Downes
Label Love Vol. 5: The Jazz...

Album Reviews
Jazzin' Around Europe
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Extended Analysis
Album Reviews
Catching Up With
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Obsidian

Obsidian

ECM Records
2018

buy
Such A Sky

Such A Sky

Self Produced
2017

buy
Vyamanikal

Vyamanikal

Slip Imprint
2016

buy
Tricko

Tricko

Coup Perdu
2015

buy
Kit Downes: Light From Old Stars

Kit Downes: Light...

Basho Records
2014

buy
Wedding Music

Wedding Music

Loop Records
2013

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Jun23Sun
Kit Downes
Christ Church
Rochester, NY
$30
Jun23Sun
Kit Downes
Christ Church
Rochester, NY
$30
Jun30Sun
Kit Downes
St. Olaf Catholic Church
Minneapolis, MN
Dec7Sat
Kit Downes
Kings Place
London, UK

Related Articles

Read LP1 Album Reviews
LP1
By Dan Bilawsky
June 17, 2019
Read The Garden Of Earthly Delights Album Reviews
The Garden Of Earthly Delights
By Friedrich Kunzmann
June 17, 2019
Read Groove Machine Album Reviews
Groove Machine
By Don Phipps
June 17, 2019
Read Life in the Modern World Album Reviews
Life in the Modern World
By Nicholas F. Mondello
June 17, 2019
Read Live at I.C.U.U. Album Reviews
Live at I.C.U.U.
By Karl Ackermann
June 16, 2019
Read 789 Miles Album Reviews
789 Miles
By David A. Orthmann
June 16, 2019
Read Follow Me Album Reviews
Follow Me
By Roger Farbey
June 16, 2019