Album review: Cocos Lovers – Johannes

Picture 5“The wind and the rain that follows you home/The valley surrounds and swallows you whole.”

Kentish folk stalwarts Cocos Lovers’ latest album, Johannes, captures all the beauty of their live singing. From the beginning of ‘Time To Stand,’ the clear-toned guitars, flickering mandolin and chorus vocals are filled with British tradition. At the same time, other worldwide musical references can be heard in the use of upbeats, hand drums, accordions and operatic vocal cords.

A slight lack of variety in sound is made up for with the epic wall that those combined vocals (six or seven singers?) generate. Listening to the bluegrassy banjo on tracks such as ‘A Beggar’s Land,’ you can hear a century’s worth of transatlantic folk developments. And while their sound is nice and rootsy, it isn’t out of place in the current British scene because of the indie guitar licks. They also have equivalents in America like Band of Horses, Sean Hayes and Bon Iver.

The guitar at the start of ‘Oh My Love’ does seem suspiciously familiar, definitely forgivable as it becomes a sweet, quiet love song. At some points the recordings, especially the lead guitar, seem overproduced and detract from the atmosphere. There could also be a couple more pared-down songs to highlight the skills of separate singers, like ‘Oh Rosa Oh Rosa,’ but perhaps that’s just personal opinion.

Sliding bass lines, rising and falling drums, and extra percussion creates a kind of transient mood that fits with the natural imagery. It feels like an album about travel and community, which I’d say (after seeing them at Lounge on the Farm a few times) describes Cocos Lovers quite well. With a nod to early Van Morrison, the sound of ‘I Am The Road’ best summarises the simultaneous originality and tradition of the album.

Words: Alice Knapp

Comments

7 comments for “Album review: Cocos Lovers – Johannes

  1. Neil Jenkin
    18 March 2010 at 9:55 am

    Might help if you spelled the title correctly; still, at least you’re consistently wrong

    • will
      19 March 2010 at 2:15 pm

      thats how you spell the johannes we met, he was a german farmer who was working at a commune we visited. The vegetation was growing quicker than he could work and he had a breakdown and now lives in siberia. Maybe theres another way of spelling it.

      • Lynn
        Lynn Roberts
        19 March 2010 at 2:18 pm

        Ah sorry Will, Neil’s comment was meant for us, not you (joy of joys). There was a typo but we fixed it quick-smart. Sorry for the confusion. Lynn x

  2. will
    19 March 2010 at 2:15 pm

    thats how you spell the johannes we met, he was a german farmer who was working at a commune we visited. The vegetation was growing quicker than he could work and he had a breakdown and now lives in siberia. Maybe theres another way of spelling it.

  3. Alex
    8 May 2010 at 6:14 pm

    I bought this album from the band when I happened to come across them playing on the streets of Cambridge.

    Having been disappointed by a few cd’s purchased this way, it is ones like this that stop me giving up.

    A lovely album, from a wonderfullyy distinctive and accomplished band.

    • gf
      5 July 2011 at 12:44 am

      Weird so did I.. Spur of the moment and loved it!

  4. Ray
    9 August 2010 at 7:49 pm

    Had high hopes for the album. I think they have got something good in them, but needs a bit of polishing and tightening, if they do this they have a bright future, if not well, they dont

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