Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker: Seedlings All review – Songs of depth and sensitivity

Fri, Mar 23, 2018, 05:00

   
 

Album:
Seedlings All

Artist:
Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker

Label:
Rough Trade

Genre:
Singer / Songwriter

Last month the English singer Josienne Clarke retweeted an Henri Matisse quote: “Creativity takes courage.” Marry that thought to the questioning of Seedlings All’s gorgeous opening track, Chicago, and its killer line “Make your peace with failure”, then listen as the duo sift through the embers – and discover some spark.

Seedlings All is the follow-up to Overnight, the lauded 2016 breakthrough that wasn’t. Clarke is a fine singer. Sandy Denny is clearly an influence, notably on All Is Myth, and Clarke’s traditional folk roots are evident throughout in her clearly annunciated, tightly wound voice.

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker: Chicago

But then there is the light-fingered after-hours jazz, à la Norah Jones, of Tender Heart or the complicated construction of Ghost Light. Clarke’s writing is heartfelt, vulnerable, melancholic, expressive, her stark reflection on motherhood, Maybe I Won’t, a case in point.

Equally, however, there is something resilient, ambitious, undaunted about her and her work: she spices up the obvious with the daring. Ben Walker adds the thoughtful musical touches that shape the songs, such as the signature guitar in the shimmering Janice Ian-ish Bathed in Light.

Not everything smells of roses, but the best of these songs have real depth and sensitivity; josienneandben.com.