Timeless is a word which is overused, including by myself…particularly by myself. But when a band seem to drill down into the archaeology of the music canon to explore the important sonic imprints of the past, when they create music out of essence and emotion rather being guided by anything so obvious as scene and sound, when they forge songs out of a few important and confident sonic lines rather than trying to employ every studio trick and gimmick in the book…when they force me to write such long, run-on sentences…then no other word seems sufficient. Phew! And relax.
I feel that Sound Affects don’t err on the side of the understated because of the limitations of operating as a duo, rather they are a duo because between them they have everything that they need to make the music they hearing their heads, so why over-egg things? Why indeed? Ley Lines is a collection of neat folk tunes born from the clash of the traditional and the gently progressive, channelling everything from 60’s coffee-shop troubadourism, 70’s counter-cultural edge, 80’s revivalists such as The Oysterband and on through the likes of The Levellers’ anarcho-folk and the more recent indie-folk boom which still seems to be echoing today.
Windmills, with its nostalgic whispers and reflective thoughts, cuts to the core of their ethos, songs made by people slightly out of step with the time that they were born into lamenting the rapid pace of change and trying to hold desperately on to their cultural ancestry. The same sense of loss is found in Giving Something Back, this time a poetic social comment on the value of honest toil. It is songs like No Means To Pay and The Gap which perhaps strike a chord, or tug a heartstring, most readily about the state of the world just outside the door today, here travelling similar sonic pathways to those more bombastic Brighton buskers made ragged rock minor-deities yet reducing it to an intimate late night conversation.
Like all good albums Ley Lines is built on musical subtlety and lyrical depth. Built around the sound of the rhythmic guitar, it is the additional musical motifs, a drifting violin curling around the edge of the chords or sparing and deft vocal harmonies, a lilting accordion skirl or a slightly mournful flutter of flute, which colour the sonic landscape. And lyrically you can either just listen along at the soothing poetics or you can dig deeper and find both solitude and solidarity in the “us and them” social commentary and supple suggestions of rabble rousing and the need for a change the need for a fairer world.
It’s not a case of less is more, its a case of having songs whose few deft lines or neat turns of phrase get the job done so effectively, so memorably, that you don’t need the more. Ley Lines is an album which has those in spades.