The Leylines are a five piece band of musicians from England’s West Country. The band are currently based in Weston-Super-mare. I first came across them playing live at ‘Something Else in The Dean’ a grassroots music festival in the forest of dean. I was very impressed with their live performance. They were, for me, one of the highlights of a great weekend of music.
The band are currently working on their debut album release but I did manage to get hold of their four track EP ‘Let it Go’ so that I could get a flavour of their recorded output. It must be said that the band picked four excellent songs to showcase their talents.
Vocalist Steve Mitchell is a great focus for the band. He has a slightly gruff, slightly throaty singing voice which, especially on ‘Sorry my friends’, really reminded me of the Levellers Mark Chadwick. In fact that track would not have been out of place on Chadwick’s recent solo album ‘Moment’. The track both opens and closes with lovely fiddle pieces by Hannah Johns and once the vocals kick in the song is driven along by a very tight rhythm section, the guitars and fiddle playing a sympathetic supporting role. Backing vocals are understated and add a nice depth and texture.
‘Save your soul’ is a simply gorgeous and a fantastic showcase for Mitchells vocals. The track opens with just a simple finger picking guitar before the vocal starts with ‘Save your soul, not mine, save your heart not mine’, it is mournful, it tugs at the heart strings. The fiddle comes in adding a gentle melancholic feel as Mitchell sings ‘You’re just not the one for me’. The guitars drums and bass are added in layers as that line is repeated over and over, it builds and incredible feeling of love lost, of heartbreak, of sadness. Its the sort of song you can imagine being played in front of a huge crowd who sing along with their cigarette lighters illuminating tear filled eyes. It is simply beautiful.
The title track ‘let it go’ is an altogether more upbeat affair. It paints a picture of the North devon moors, of freedom, of wandering outdoors of the trees and the sea. The urgent rhythm of the drums and the flowing fiddle playing are sure to get feet moving, it is a very danceable track but you just have the feeling that there is a hint of darkness underneath the outward dynamic jollity.
Runaway is again upbeat but you do detect that all is not well in the world as the commentator runs away to a place in his mind. You get the feeling that here is someone trying to remain positive in a fractured world, who is withdrawing into himself to draw on an inner strength in his determination to overcome adversity.
The leylines are in their infancy as a band but there is a maturity in their sound. They draw inspiration from the sort of socially aware folk rock that has been espoused so successfully by the likes of the Levellers and the Oysterband. The musicianship is strong and the songs hold up very well as a piece of work. This is an extremely enjoyable EP, the forerunner of what I am sure will be an excellent album. The songs are catchy and have good chorus line hooks that you can easily see festival crowds singing along too. The one piece of advice I would offer is to use these hooks a little more sparingly as there is a tendency across all four tracks to use the same couple of lines time and again to draw the listener in. This works fine on an EP and would be fine on four songs out of a 12 track album but I suspect it could be easily overdone.
So in conclusion this is an excellent debut from a very exciting new folk rock band. I can’t wait to hear their album and I look forward to catching them live again sometime very soon.