Circle Mountain –  Daniel Blake (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Folk music, like every other style and genre has to move with the times to stay relevant. Remain entrenched in nostalgic sounds and you limit your audience to those who are already on board, push the boundaries too far and you find that you are just pandering to current fad and fashion rather than making the music that comes naturally from you. Circle Mountain is the sound of an artist getting the balance between old and new just right.

Brought up on the classic folk and acoustic acts of his parents record collection –  James Taylor, Carol King, Van Morrison and the like – such an influence is clearly at work in this debut EP but so too is a gentle indie undercurrent, one that smooths the edges and blurs the lines slightly and creates a beautifully drifting and gossamer backdrop for the songs to stand against. It is folk tradition merging with indie cool  to create a cinematic soundscape that merges the past with the present to ensure that folk music has a future.

Across five songs Daniel Blake explores the age old themes of love, loss, longing…life and does so in a way that feels intimate and  wholly personal whilst being ultimately relatable to anyone listening. California is a shimmering ballad that is a tribute to the place that he now calls home, Any Way The Wind Blows follows in some emotive cosmic country footsteps and Far is the gentlest of songs writ large across the biggest musical canvas imaginable.

Daniel Blake describes himself as a “struggling singer-songwriter,” but the way he makes music that is perfect for everything from small,  intimate gigs to Hollywood blockbuster soundtracks is going to mean that it is a description that he will not need to employ for much longer.

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