England’s Ringlefinch have been around for several years before the release of this, their first album, this summer. And it shows: Tall Tales does not feel and sound like a debutante’s performance. It is a solid, excellently executed showcase by a band capable of both irrerestible grooves and introspective mood pieces.
I have noticed some comparisons to Bellowhead in British music media, and I think the the family resemblance is there. Both are big bands (Ringlefinch doesn’t have a brass section, though) with colorful and expansive arrangements. Both offer a quirky blend of British folk mixed with various spices from other genres, most notably jazz and some European folk music styles, resulting in something of a carnival or burlesque atmosphere.
But whereas Bellowhead went happily and deliberately over the top with their massive aural concontion, Ringlefinch stay on this side of outright anarchy. While most of the songs on the album come with dizzyingly effective dancefloor grooves, the band sound remains controlled and elegant. I think they would do Klezmer numbers effortlessly, that’s how good they are.
And, most importanly, Ringlefinch come with their own signature sound and approach, very well formed at this point, and I commend them for that, too. Plus, the lyrics are a treat throughout and Andy Logan delivers them in natural, very likeable style.
I would really love to see this band live, because Tall Tales is one of the albums in our home that caused immediate dancing on first play. Not only is the opener Edward Gorey’s Gory Stories a truly joyuful and catchy piece of pop-leaning folk, the party mood goes on for several songs in a row.
We have to go to all the way to track six to properly slow down, and there lies a jewel. Ophelia is to this album what Hungry Sea was to Honey and the Bear’s new album I reviewed recently: a baroque-folk ballad that reveals, in songwriting, arrangement and incisive lyrics, a potential to go much deeper and to take artistic chances without leaving the home base.
And the final track, Coldwell Clough, seems like their answer to the 70’s multi-part prog epics as it effortlessy cover over 15 minutes (!) of music and narrative. It comes across as perfectly effortless, with no sense of overreaching.
I really and truly like and enjoy this album; I have been spinning it a lot and my wife smiles and taps her feet, or even goes into a few dance moves, when it’s playing. So big thanks to all you guys in the band for a good time and great music!
And you reading this – you know what to do: