Monday, 23 March 2015


CD Review

The Girl I Left Behind Me

Almost like the Doppler effect this album from migrant Devoners Cole Stacey and Joseph O'Keefe, collectively the India Electric Company, comes at you from the distance like a train you are waiting for at a station.

Joseph O'Keefe and Cole Stacey
All you have to do is jump on board and enjoy the ride the duo take you on as they open up their musical journey.

To stretch the analogy a little more, as you pass through the carriages of the IEC express you see each one is decked out in a different style as the duo present their musical smorgasbord which has everything including probably more than one kitchen sink.

Opener, Lost in Translation, has Stacey's soft and breathy delivery coming in over the top of the galloping percussion and pizzicato strings.

It has more than a passing resemblance to Elvis' Mystery Train too. Strangely enough they move into a more European sound which also has a tango-style beat for Beirut and they keep up the pace of the previous track.

The duo seem to be playing with sounds almost as if they are trying to create graffiti art using music.

The eclectic rhythms and sounds which make up this track are complex and never really allow the listener to settle into the track.

Heimat continues the Latin strand and is another one with a built in interlud. It has a real cafe dance track where you can imagine women in hipsters selecting this on the jukebox and then dancing between the tables.

It's undeniable Stacey & O'Keefe are fantastic at creating multi-stranded and layered songs and music.
They go for yet another approach for the ballad Dreams which has the feel of a track from Massive Attack.

Bringing this time a Grappelli-style jazz sound mixed with a sound track which wouldn't be out of place in a 40s musical, The Thought Fox is again this disparate fusion of sounds which seems to delight in playing with people's listening. What comes strongly through is O'Keefe's remarkable skill on the fiddle.

I Can't Make You Love Me is a gorgeous ballad with Stacey's voice taking on a deeper, raspier resonance which starts off not unlike the style of Kris Drever.

Stacey picks up the pace for My Friends Are Rich which has more than its fair share of Celtic flavouring and the pair of them, again through a wall of sound, manage to come across a lot like Bellowhead but with more subtlety.

The Girl I Left Behind Me
Joanna, Kate and Alice goes back to the gentle ballad again to which Stacey's breathy voice lends itself so well. It's a track where O'Keefe accentuates the tune with little gems on the banjo as well as keeping a light and dance-like touch with the fiddle.
With what sounds like Lost In Translation pt 2 Eyes and Tears has that same train-like syncopation.

The duo appear to delight in keeping the listener on their toes, just when you get into the foot-stomping rhythm Casey slows things down or O'Keefe brings in another sound at a different pace.
The album goes out on a fairly ethereal note with Doveman, a highly stylised and refined ballad where the piano takes precedence working boldly underneath Casey's singing.

A little like a highland sword dancer IEC jumps in and out of the folk realm with its tracks which are extremely well constructed and executed.

Whether folk purists will take to it remains to be seen but as an album which seems to want to bridge several genres it's very clever, and again time will tell whether it can be all things to all people.

The Girl I Left Behind Me is released March 30 through Shoelay Music.

IEC are with Midge Ure at the Theatre Severn, Shrewsbury on May 7.  Show starts 7.30pm and tickets are £19.50 with 10% discount for Friends of the Theatre.
Later in the year, October 4, they are at Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton.

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