Communion Records – New Faces Compilation

Communion. The label with the golden touch. In our humble opinion at least. We’ve had the fortune of attending several of their nights in Brighton of late. To shamelessly recycle a quote from our review; “Communion nights are always such fun. Gig nights are a dime a dozen, but consistently good ones are far rarer.” Needless to say Communion nights are part of those rare ones. Said review also got a shout out on the Communion website, which may have made us like them just that little bit more…

It’s often stated that Communion are at the forefront of the nu-folk movement that has swept across the country recently. Forget forefront, they’re the driving force. For evidence of that you only need look at their artist affiliations. Ben Lovett, of Mumford & Sons, was one of the founders. Their recent compilation, “New Faces”, features Ben Howard, Michael Kiwanuka, James Vincent McMorrow and Gotye, to name a few of the bigger names.

The highlights of “New Faces” come not from those names though, we knew they were good, its wonder lies in the discovery of new and fledgling talent. Daughter undoubtedly fit the latter category. They’ve received some well deserved exposure of late, and have just signed a deal with 4AD. On “Love” Elena Tonra’s vocals are both haunting and beautiful, layered atop dark melancholy on this bittersweet lament. “Middle Of The Bed” serves as a timely reminder of just how good Lucy Rose. Her warm tone adds an extra poignancy to this tale that flips between love and despair, fuelled by the fluidity of the minimalist instrumentation. Boy & Bear provide an injection of full-bodied folk rock with “Milk & Sticks”, whilst Matt Croby delivers a nostalgia tinged tale of “Kings, Queens, Beggars & Thieves”.

In testament to Communion’s talent-spotting abilities, the truly new faces also excel themselves. David McCaffery fits neatly into that age old category of acoustic singer-songwriter, but he does so whilst retaining a distinctive character of his own. Comparisons could be made with fellow Yorkshireman Benjamin Francis Leftwich, who featured on Communion’s last compilation. “Marion” perhaps aligns better with the likes of Daughter and Lucy Rose, with the track carried by Dan Croll’s vocal, well, that and an impassioned chorus. Will Nott’s delicate “Won’t Go Back” is another promising introduction, but it’s Joe Banfi who stands out as best of the youngsters. “Olive Green” has an impressive depth and texture, rather appropriate for a philosophy student. There’s a deftness and restraint here that belies Banfi’s age, as he displays patient craftsmanship in transforming muted verse into moving chorus.

The highlight of the twenty tracks, however, comes in the form of a new project from an old name. Ex Cherbourg vocalist Andrew Davie, has considerable industry experience, but “Pompeii” is his debut release as part of Bear’s Den. It is an instantly affecting tale of loss, hope and naivety. The opening is poignant enough, with Davie’s soothing vocal carrying the tragic narrative atop tender guitar strings. It is the brass section that’s so special though, propelling the track to the upper peaks of powerful emotion.

The “New Faces” launch party is at London’s Shepherd’s Bar this Thurday. Unfortunately we can’t make it. So go in our place. Enjoy hearing Matt Corby, Joe Banfi and Dan Croll live. If the compilation is anything to go by, it will be a great night.

Bear’s Den  –  Pompeii

David McCaffrey  –  Stars