Album Appreciation: Branches and Leaves by Joseph Allred

When I hear the harmonium, my thoughts go in two very different but distinct directions… the first is into the wonderful world of Ivor Cutler… the Scottish poet who is beloved by many, including myself, for his clever and endearing wordplay, and observational humour… especially of his Scottish roots. The second comes from a visit to South India back in 1987, when touring round with a local charity. We visited a village that was well off the beaten track, and were treated to some music with the harmonium at the centre… it was a slightly surreal and strangely spiritual encounter in a place that was far away from my own experience, but one that has stuck with me vividly.

So, taking up the recommendations of a couple of people whose taste in music I trust implicitly, upon hearing the harmonium that gets this strangely wonderful album underway, I was transported to these divergent cultural worlds which, I realised upon hearing the whole thing a few times, have a link into this music. That’s because Joseph Allred feels like the sort of outsider musician that Ivor Cutler was poet… albeit both rooted in their own distinct cultures. In terms of the music I experienced in that little South Indian village, Allred’s music shares a similar folk spirituality that embodies itself within me… while all three have a certain simplicity to them which is belied when you think more broadly about what is going on… a simplicity that really draws you in and leaves you with something substantial and meaningful by the end.

This is the first Joseph Allred album I have listened to, although his Discogs page suggested that he has been very productive over the last few years… this being his sixth album for Feeding Tube Records alone. But on the basis of this I am going to explore his music a lot further. I have already spoken about the seeming simplicity of his music which, when explored further, takes you into deep areas quite quickly. That’s because the music here seems to grab you somewhere quite basic and fundamental, as drag you into its world… and that is a world that is devoid of complexity and, in a sense, modernity… back to something quite primitive, and I mean this in a non-pejorative sense… simple and elementary, and yet somehow stacked with meaning which, I guess is dependent on how the listener hears it…

…what I am trying to say in a rather crude sense is that Allred’s music creates this elemental space for you to bring in your own thoughts and passions… and the more that you listen to it the more that you tune into to it. It takes you through melancholic lows and some really unexpected highs as you find yourself expressing simple joy at his playing (an here again is a similarity with Cutler for me). You may have to overcome some musical prejudices to do so, but it seems to me that this old time music is about finding common ground, and to engage in true meaningful dialogue we all have to give a bit… give yourself to this album and you will not be disappointed.


‘Branches and Leaves’ is released by Feeding Tube Records, downloads available direct from Allred here.

-o0o-

Hey, 

Thanks very much for reading my blog, I really appreciate this. I write it as a labour of love to help me enjoy music, and to give something back to the many talented people who put out these incredible sounds.

To make it as enjoyable as possible for others I do pay extra so there are, for instance, no ads on these pages; but it would be great if the blog could pay for itself.

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Cheers…

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