The Bird, The Book & The Barrel – The Lost Trades (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Although there were always folk themes running through the solo work of the three individuals that make up The Lost Trades, it was balanced by elements of acoustic pop, blues, even occasionally pushing into more rock and roll sonic territory in some cases. It seems that it is in the coming together of Jamie R Hawkins, Tamsin Quin and Phil Cooper to form, what those who love a good hyperbole would term, a “folk supergroup,” that they have embraced the genre more fully.

And given their rural, west country, British base of operations, those expecting something that sounds like a British Folk Revival…err… revival, might be surprised to hear how much they also embrace a nostalgic, west-coast, Laurel Canyon sound. And that is the real charm here, their ability to blend past and present, tradition and exploration, Atlantic cool and Pacific warmth in their songs.

Because the band is formed from three established solo acts, you have, not only three musicians able to swap roles as a song requires but also three lead voices, each happy to take the lead, harmonise or hold back as required and that makes for a gorgeous mix and melding of sounds. And similarly the songwriting. Each was always able to write addictive and inviting tunes, imagine what might happen when you turn that solo prowess into a musical triptych?

Well, you don’t have to, you only need to buy the album. There are lush and understated anthems (if you can have such a thing), such as the opener One Voice, pastoral wisdom in the form of the utterly beautiful Distance Brings Us Closer and lilting and positive Celtica with the emotive Wait For My Boat. And, as if to underline their authenticity…not that they need to, the music speaks for itself…they have even enrolled the talents of former Steeleye Span fiddler Peter Knight.

The real fun that you can have as a listener is, based on the songs they have written leading up to this new collective path, to try and work out which songs were instigated by which band members. Here’s my take. If it’s a song infused with wanderlust and wanting to know what is over the next horizon, then it is probably one of Tamsin’s, if it is inflected with insightful philosophies and folk wisdom then I’d opt for Phil and the more narrative and perhaps autobiographical tales of life’s rich pageant, then you’re in Jamie’s territory. But then again, that is just me musing, a band is always going to be a highly collaborative process and more than the sum of its parts. This album is indeed that.

It’s a gorgeous opening salvo but then given the body of work that these three amigos have behind them as solo songwriters, I doubt if anyone, at least anyone in the know, expected anything less.

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