Hello and welcome to my Sunday Recommendation. Thanks for joining me. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, stumble upon engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music. This is my chance to bring you carefully curated recommendations of all the best I’ve experienced – every Sunday. If it’s folk, or independent, or about wildlife, nature or Orkney, I may love it, and so may you.
The Beacon – Harbottle and Jonas
Here’s something I’ve been enjoying all week. A new album with glorious harmonies, passionate songs and perfect, spare instrumentation. It’s the fifth album from Devon folk duo Harbottle and Jonas. The Beacon is an album inspired by the time available in lockdown, with a prayer for a bright new beginning of love, hope and compassion.
Harbottle and Jonas are a duo who perform as a trio, in the classic style of Show of Hands, another of my favourite folk bands. David Harbottle and Freya Jonas are a husband and wife duo who write songs separately and record five each per album, playing on and helping arrange each other’s songs. They are joined by Annie Bayliss.
Here’s the title track, The Beacon, which takes its title from Ugborough Beacon, the most southerly outcrop of Dartmoor which looms over the village of South Brent in the South Hams of Devon. The South Hams are the least accessible part of Devon and have some if its most beautiful villages. Through the South Hams run the River Dart and the flooded ria of the Salcombe Kingsbridge estuary.
The songs are reflective, and spare, with a lightness of touch which suits the themes explored in the words. Freya’s glorious songs are poetry set to music presented as modern hymns to humanity and the living world. David’s songs are rhythmic and have the passion of northern protest songs about them.
Here’s Every Creature is a Book
Here are David and Freya on The Beacon:
‘The Beacon’ is a collection of songs inspired by the difficult circumstances we all faced during the global pandemic of 2020. It is an album of hope, new beginnings and re-rooting to the ancient ways. It has been a journey of discovery and has taught us the importance of love, compassion and empathy, whilst discovering the needs and delights of our inner creature. Much like the beacons of old that served as a warning with flaming fires, we hope that this period in our history will encourage us to reflect, adapt and sing together once more…
If you enjoy what you’ve heard, please buy a copy. Visiting Harbottle and Jonas on their Bandcamp page is the best way of supporting them. They’ve had to do vegetable picking to bring in cash over this pandemic, so every sale is precious to keep body and creative soul together until their hectic schedule of hundreds of live concerts a year begins again. I can’t wait to see them in my local venue, a 16th Century church in South Devon. It will be magical, etherial and transcendent evening of eyes-closed moments on bottom-numbing pews, all the more powerful for the wait and the loved ones lost along the way. You can find Harbottle and Jonas here:
The Beacon is a beautiful album full of transcendent moments. When it ends I want to play it again. There’s no finer praise.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with more recommendations of things you might adore next Sunday. In the meantime, I wish you a great week. Keep safe, everyone.