Unanswered – Ward, Knútur and Townes
Unanswered is a product of our times as, during the great pestilence of Covid, three musicians pooled their resources, employed technology and produced this collection which reflects their English, Icelandic and Canadian roots respectively.
The highly lauded skills of Lucy Ward, Svavar Knútur and Adyn Townes have created songs with qualities of other-worldliness, serenity and poignancy that are well worth dipping into with all your senses.
The album gestated over two years in its cyber incubator that is Zoom finally being given life in Iceland.
Aside from their voices, Townes plays guitars, Ward adds sansula, (a plucked handheld instrument) and Knútur brings guitars, keys and synths. They are more than ably assisted by Sarah Matthews on violin and viola and Evan McCosham on bass. Steve MacLachlan produced the album as well as adding the drums.
Opening with Astronaut, Ward and Downes could be accused of whispering the lyrics almost as if they want the listener to lean in and experience the creation more intimately.
The harmonies on Paper Plane are smoother than the fur on a rabbit’s paw and carried along by the sound of Matthew’s spectre-like violin tones.
A much stronger tempo brings in the travelling beat of Work It Out where the under-drumming carries the song along at a canter. The structure has more than a twang of the fabulous First Aid Kit.
Seasons is a ballad about legend Johnny Cash and wife June Carter where, after 35 years married, they died within a few months of each other. The gentleness of Townes’ tones feel as if you are eavesdropping on the outpourings of someone trying to make sense of life. Ward’s harmonies are sympathetic and surround the main lyrics almost like a hug from a friend.
The deeper and sleepier tones of Knútur can lull you into a false sense of security as Isn’t It Funny turns out to be sprawling song with all the hallmarks of something lifted out of a West End musical.
|Adyn Townes, Svavar Knutur|
and Lucy Ward
Everything has ambitions of being a social commentary but doesn’t quite pull it off. While the intentions are good, the lyrics feel lethargic and the music lacks any edge to make you sit up and take notice.
Ward comes with a much edgier sound to her voice for Aurora where there are definite shades of the late great Sinead O’Connor in her delivery.
Your Love Was Death To Me is an incredible title and Townes sings the song with all the pathos of a wounded and defeated man.
Knútur takes over for Medusa, his soft Donovan-sounding tones riding slowly in on a pulsating yet wonderfully understated keyboard.
The title track, inspired by Icelandic folklore about an old phone box which, although disconnected for years, allegedly still rings. Locals claim it has mystical powers and can even bring misfortune! This said Ward’s silky voice is a blend of gentleness with a real edge and the ethereal refrain is almost chant-like.
If you want to indulge in the translations of Orgar Brim then feel free but it’s best enjoyed as the mesmerising piece of music it is. The language of music is universal and this almost tribal song has a way of sinking into your emotions.
Unanswered is an album of styles that could so easily have misconnected like badly aligned cogwheels, instead the layers each musician brings creates a collection that is ethereal, luxurious and indulgent.
Unanswered is available from wardknuturtownes.com the trio are also touring over the coming months opening with a chance to invite them into your living room.
Friday 13 - Deda - Derby/Live To Your Living Room - online
Saturday 14 - Newhampton Arts Centre, Dunkley Street, Wolverhampton. WV1 4AN
Sunday 15 - Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre, Manor Road, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. KT12 2PF
Tuesday 17 - Norden Farm Centre for the Arts, Altwood Road, Maidenhead. SL6 4PF
Wednesday 18 - Green Note, 106 Parkway, London. NW1 7AN
Thursday 19 - The Greystones, Greystones Road, Sheffield. S11 7BS (PLEASE NOTE THIS VENUE IS A CASHLESS SITE)
Friday 20 - Manchester Folk Festival, 25 Swan Street Northern Quarter Manchester. M4 5JZ
Saturday 21 - Chapel Arts, St.James's Memorial Hall, Lower Borough Walls, Bath. BA1 1QR
Sunday 22 - Calstock Arts, The Old Chapel, Sand Lane, Calstock. PL18 9QX
Friday 17 - Downend Folk & Roots, Christ Church, North Street, Downend, Bristol. BS16 5SG
Saturday 18 - The Silver Street Sessions. For all concerts please park in Croft Way Car Park, adjacent to Wiveliscombe Community Centre and a short walk from St. Andrew's Church.
Sunday 19th - The Tolmen Centre, Tolmen Centre, Fore Street, Constantine, Cornwall. TR11 5AA
Tuesday 21 - Hermon Arts, Hermon Chapel, Chapel Street, Oswestry. SY11 1LF. Parking is available at the nearby Horsemarket Car park
Wednesday 22 - The Witham, The Witham, 3 Horse Market, Barnard Castle, DL12 8LY.
Thursday 23 - Ropery Hall - The Ropewalk, Maltkiln Road, Barton upon Humber, North Lincolnshire, DN18 5JT.
Friday 24 - The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, MK17 8LU.
Saturday 25 – The Courthouse - Otley Courthouse, Courthouse Street, Otley, LS21 3AN.
Sunday 26 - Folk at The Froize – The Street, Chillesford, Woodbridge, Suffolk. IP12 3PU.