The Magpies: Undertow

So… Today is October 24 in the strange and scary year of 2022 and I have decided to begin writing this blog using a dictation app, a speech to text app, which probably makes it a lot more fun and easy for me to say something about the music that I listen to.

The album to have the honor of being the first I write about this way is by the all-female trio The Magpies (UK). Their second album, Undertow, just came out a little while back and I hadn’t listen to their first one called Tidings, from a couple years back, but I was immediately taken positively by this new one.

As far as the style on the album is concerned I’d say it’s a blend of English folk music and decidedly American influences. The banjo player, Kate Griffin, is particularly excellent; I had previously came across her work with a band called Mishra that blends all kinds of influences: English folk music, Celtic folk music, Indian music, all kinds of stuff happily thrown in together, and her contribution in that band is just outstanding as it is here.

So yeah, I’m pretty impressed with this album; it also kind of charged me with new energy because it’s been a cold day here in Finland and it’s getting darker and darker towards winter and an album like Undertow can really cheer you up on a day like this – especially as I listened to it after a fairly demanding working day and it managed to cheer me up and get me going again.

There’s excellent playing, very nice vocal harmonies and the songs – I’m not sure but I think they are original, except for one: the final song on the album is the iconic Eurythmics hit, Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This – and it works very well, I have to say. I’ve never liked the original, always thought it was boring as hell, but as a folk song with a fiddle and banjo and guitar it works perfectly well!

So yeah, if you are looking for a fresh and mostly upbeat folk album that does not sit too nicely in any British folk or trad sub genre but comes with a sound and voice of its own, I pretty much recommend this one. There may not be anything too revolutionary or astonishingly new here, but it’s easy to feel that the ladies have had a great time together in the studio playing and singing and the songs are overall pretty excellent. Go Magpies! 👍

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