I’ve listen to a lot of folk music in my, not so short, time on this earth and I’ve never come across anything quite like this before! To be honest, the term folk music probably doesn’t really do the album justice, for whilst there is folk music at its core, and a number of songs such as Outside Your Window, which sit comfortably under such a generic umbrella, it is more than that. Much more.
As always the art of such things is to write fairly simple, uncomplicated and direct songs and then create the impact by cocooning them in intriguing textures and subtle musical layers until the sheer weight of these numerous embellishments makes the statement for you. And that is exactly what James Auger does here. Sometimes he will use this approach to create huge sonic backdrops, such as the wide-screen drama of Sinner in Rapture, other times he will use such additions to drive the beat or add further melodic intricacy, such as with the title track and sometimes it is just applied as clever musical motifs and gentle touches of detail as in Southwest of the Moon. And then there are times when one voice and one guitar are enough to convey the sentiment, and songs such as Human reflect this gloriously understated approach perfectly.
On reflection, An Ounce of Gold probably is folk music but folk music with a new purpose, folk music with broader melodic agenda, folk music for the modern age. There was once a thing, if you have a long enough memory, called “The Big Music” a romantic, hazy, wide-screen, orchestrated blend of new pop and old folk, and A Choir of Ghosts makes music which pulses, shimmers and chimes with a similar resonance.
Anything which sounds like the dawning of a brave new musical world whilst reminding me of a distantly remembered past is, in my book at least, a very special blend of sonics and sentiment.