Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker return with their fifth full-length album together (though one is just credited to Clarke) and fans of the previous efforts together will not be disappointed by this one either. To these ears, Clarke has one of the most distinct voices to have graced music since the halcyon days of Sandy Denny. A lot of these songs are set a quiet and minimalist backing, especially on ‘Something Familiar’ and ‘Sweet the Sorrow’, allowing Clarke’s voice come to the fore. Overnight is the duo’s first release for their new record label, Rough Trade, and sees them more than match whatever standards their label would’ve wanted them to make.
Treatments of John Dowland’s lute ayre ‘Weep No More You Sad Fountain’ and Gillian Welch’s ‘Dark Turn of Mind’ are simply beautiful. There’s a definite air of confidence in this album which backs up the reasons why they are BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winners, a more mature album with expansive arrangements and forays into jazz pop on the almost Burt Bacharach sounding ‘The Waning Crescent’ and further covers of songs made famous by Nick Drake and Jackson C Frank on the album’s final stretch.
‘Milk and Honey’, a song before the aforementioned ‘Frank’, sticks close to the original with a simple guitar backing and the most plaintive sax solo I’ve heard in years. It’s both heartbreaking and beautiful. The album is quite nostalgic and finishes with ‘Light of Day’ which is magical and majestic with its cello playing gently. It shimmers along nicely and no song outstays its welcome. The perfect marriage of harmony and melody – this is an album that haunts and enchants in equal measure.
Words: Mark Buckley