Trader Horne – Morning Way
Following on from two previous downers, it’s time HFoS had something a little more uplifting.
Well, not necessarily uplifting (though there are moments), but something gentle, occasionally dark, fleetingly creepy and most importantly, worthy of a second listen. Trader Horne’s one and only album, 1970′s Morning Way, is, in fact, worthy of much more than a second listen.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Firstly, this may have been Trader Horne’s lone release, but they were in fact a duo comprising of original Fairport Convention vocalist and one time member of an embryonic King Crimson, Judy Dyble, and Irish folk rock underground ubiquity Jackie McAuley. The conjunction of these musical forces resulted in Morning Way, a pleasingly obscure example of psychedelically informed folk rock.
Trader Horne – who apparently took their moniker from the nickname John Peel had for his nanny (la-di-da) – provide a calming soundtrack, with the typical folk setup of male and female vocals exchanging leads and harmonies. Even so, this is Jackie McAuley’s show, with him writing the lion’s share of the tracks and taking the majority of leads, while Judy Dyble’s English Rose vocal drifts ethereally through the mix like the song of a Siren floating inland from a distant shore.
‘Jenny May’ kicks off proceedings, a jaunty nursery rhyme-style song that hints at darker meaning, putting us in fine fettle for the remainder of the album.
‘Children of Oare’ borrows its recorder driven riff from ”We Three Kings of Orient Are’, and is lyrically typical of the fey subject matter that dances like a pixie maiden in the court of King Arthur throughout much of the album. We’re in the realms of baroque folk, kicking the tyres of progressive music, specifically on the moving call and response of ‘Growing Man’, a true classic of the genre.
‘Down and Out Blues’ is the one exception to this blueprint, a cover of the blues standard ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out’, delivered in a full-on Billie Holiday tempo by Dyble, which, for all its sincerity, remains unremarkable and only serves to detract from the rest of the material Morning Way has to offer.
Gems such as ‘The Mutant’ (surely written under the influence of Cream’s ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’), ‘The Mixed Up Kind’, ‘In My Loneliness’, the eerie title-track with its allusions to death, and the hauntingly memorable ‘Velvet to Atone‘.
Indeed, for all its occasional tweeness and lightness of weight in the grand scheme of things, Morning Way is one of the finest, most beautifully rendered examples of psychedelic folk music. It may lack the teeth of another great of the acid-folk movement, Comus’s First Utterance, but it’s nice to leave behind the real darkness once in a while and peer blinking, but a little more settled, into a lighter shade of despair.
Morning Way, by Trader Horne, is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk
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