Burst Through The Borders – Caulbearers ft. Ruth Blake (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Having waxed lyrical about Ruth Blake’s tasteful and gorgeous Brave Ships not so long ago, it is great to see her as part of this latest single from Damien Mahoney’s musical collaboration Caulbearers. Like Blake herself, Caulbearers make ultra-modern folk music, music which takes perhaps only the vital essence of the folk spirit and etches and infuses it with all manner of contemporary genres, here leaning into a sort of graceful, ambient pop.

And if the music embraces a genre-free or at least genre-fluid creative process, its inspirations are similarly eclectic, taking in everything from “timeless texts by authors such as Idries Shah, Kahlil Gibran and Neil Douglas-Klotz” to musings on the positive effect that the pandemic is having on the world around us, the  “beautiful revolution occurring in the markets, pubs, boardrooms, hospitals and schools of our towns and cities.”

And if folk music, if indeed this song can be labelled that easily, often speaks with an archaic tongue, Burst Through The Borders talks in the everyday language of the man in the street…and the pub, the park and so on. It may rest on the creative shoulders of musical giants, as all music does, but it has its eyes set firmly on the future.

It is a delicate song, one which feels like an intimate conversation with Mahoney and Blake’s voices happy to merge in gentle and close harmony rather than trying too hard to overplay the hand. 

And the video is also perfectly understated whilst being texturally rich and gorgeously cinematic, essentially the images of empty lockdown streets and the beauty of the natural world captured on nothing more than iPhones. Less is always more, but I don’t have to tell them that, it is a phrase writ large across everything about this release.

As I said in the opening, Ruth Blake’s music has turned my head already this year, now I have another sonic avenue to explore with Caulbearers and over a decade of music to absorb. 

Don’t you just love tugging at musical threads and seeing where they lead you?

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