Vena Portae.

For most folk the way into Vena Portae (Latin for the portal vein, a vessel which feeds your liver, it’s complicated, look it up) will be via singer Emily Barker who is usually at the helm of The Red Clay Halo. Here she’s teamed up with Dom Coyote, who usually writes for musical theatre, and Sweden’s Ruben Engzell. Together they produce a very nice sound which one would probably file under early folk rock with a dash of country. Recorded in a snowbound homemade studio near Stockholm the album reflects its wintry conception although on occasion there are sunnier moments with dappled guitars and sunny harmonies. Despite its home made origins it’s a full-fledged band album with plenty of instruments in the mix. There are some skeletal moments such as on the banjo led Transatlantic (written by Christian Kjellvander) which is a wonderful and mournful mini epic while Foal reminds one of Alela Diane. There’s a hushed magic on the whispered Solitary Wives while Turning Keys harks back to the glory days of folk rock in the early seventies when Steeleye Span et al discovered amplification.

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