Thursday, 1 March 2018

Album: All The Luck In The World - A Blind Arcade

All The Luck In The World - A Blind Arcade

Info: All The Luck In The World are three Irish songwriters, Neil Foot, Ben Connolly and Kelvin Barr currently based in Berlin. The band create an intimate blend of Alternative-Folk and share a collective passion for storytelling, composition and song craft. Formed in 2011 while Foot was still in school, Connolly and Barr joined two years later to collaborate on a debut record for the band, which was written in Foot’s secluded family home in the Wicklow mountains.

In Summer 2017 the band moved to Berlin to open another chapter. "It was just a decision to move forward. We had spent much time in the city over the last few years, and found that it was reliably conducive to creativity. Those scattered stints in Berlin were always promising, and of course the nature of life in Berlin is appealing. When we arrived, there was no fear or worry. It felt right, as a band and as people."

With opening track 'Landmarks' it's immediately apparent that All The Luck In The World are the real deal; "The 1st of the tenth, my best friends are the backs of my eye lids, and so my point of view's not open minded, every red leaf has returned to their tree by now, I swear I'll be home before they fall back down". A vivid piece of imagery accompanied by swelling guitars and percussion, poignant vocals and this is what we can expect from the remainder of sophomore album A Blind Arcade.

'Pages' is bare, a sparse offering of very fine alternative folk that crosses the apex of the sounds you could expect from Keaton Henson or early Bon Iver á la For Emma, Forever Ago. It has a humbling rustic feel and light-touch acoustic guitar twinned with small sparks of cello add to that tender mood. 'Golden October' winds through a slow burning acoustic build-up, a steady ship sailed patiently towards a heart-wrenching orchestral rock blow-out, an exhilarating crescendo awaits at the final destination.

All The Luck In The World - A Blind Arcade

'Starboard' combines the old world with the new, like an enriched piece of music from some long forgotten 60's folk troubadour whose songs the world never heard, to modern looped effects and an immovable metronome rhythm, All The Luck In The World truly are the masters of their music, the conductor guiding the notes and timing. True natural beauty and mystique glows warmly outwards from the heart of 'About the Ghosts', like a beating ember the intricate strings and towering yet restrained bass line guide the thrust. 

On single 'Contrails' we see just how much ATLITW have grown their sound and style since their self-titled debut album 4 years ago, where the debut eschewed an endearing homeliness and no frills (see 'Haven'). The production is lush here and importantly in no way over-bearing, with the track marching stridently through a no nonsense contemporary indie-folk platform to a darker and grinding final minute, with some interesting hints at a possible heavier methodology in the future.

All The Luck In The World - A Blind Arcade

I'm always drawn to the longer tracks on albums, you know you will have a journey within a journey, a starting point that is indiscernible from its middle and end. On 'Into The Ocean', which clocks in at over 6 minutes, the band go on what feels like an ad lib voyage, you get a sense of their song-writing here, and it throws up the image of a group of friends in a room just jamming out, with the rest of the world locked away. 

Hints of Irishness are found carefully placed around A Blind Arcade, the occasional inclusion of fiddle, their ogham artwork (which translates to the Gaelic word taisce, meaning treasure), and more overtly on final track 'Abhainn' ('River'). Thematically this has meaning for A Blind Arcade, although the band have settled at present in Germany, there seems to be a pointed love for the soil of their home island, remembrance, yearning and fondness for their beginnings. This is all bound in the closing track in particular, an emotional powerhouse decorated with sweeping strings, brass and a thunderous percussion, all of which leaves the listener with a lasting sense of fulfilment and satisfaction from what is a mighty fine and refreshing alternative folk album.

All The Luck In The World conclude their European tour with a live show in The Workman's Club on the 19th of April. Details here.

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