Mount the Air begins with the titular track, capturing the essence of autumn with a saxophone and the swell of an orchestral string section. The song is one that captures loneliness and melancholy, but also hope. The protagonist of the song would “mount the air on swallow wings to find my dearest dear.” The story of a pursuit constantly transforming into different animals is reminiscent of the myth of Taliesin and Ceridwen, but in this case reinterpreted into a melancholy but beautiful story of two lovers and the lengths to which you would pursue love and how love itself and the quest for love is a transformative act. The song itself is adapted and expanded from a single verse in a book called A Dorset Book of Folk Songs, which makes it all the more impressive and beautifully performed.
Flutter ruminates on the temporariness of life and the uncertainty of the actions we take, asking “if I could fly what would I find?” The idea that we all live on the wind, completely at the mercy of forces we can barely understand let alone comprehend is one that is very resonant. If Mount the Air is about the pursuit of love, then Flutter is about the uncertainty of what will come next
Magpie combines the old “one’s for sorrow, two for joy” magpie rhyme and opens it up to more pagan roots or gathering for the harvest, and becomes a tale of Christianity coming to the British isles and supplanting Paganism, denouncing the Pagans as devil worshippers. Whilst the three sisters rebel, keeping to the old ways and ignoring the protestations of bothersome priests, the voices of the three Unthank sisters carrying mythic echoes of the Fates and other triple goddesses like the Morrigan, and providing beautiful melodies and harmonies full of pagan darkness.
Mount the Air is replete with beautifully realised folk songs from the British tradition that at its best reminds me of the gentle lyricism of Kathryn Williams, the soundtrack to the original Wickerman movie and the soaring scores of Joe Hisaishi. It is a journey through the old ways to realise who we are today through the exploration of mythic archetypes, an album about fight as well as flight, love, doubt and consequence.
Monthly music columnist for the Kirkby Extra, sometimes article writer for Get Into This. Freelance writer/artist/maker.