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Noah And The Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down

Noah And The Whale, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

NOAH & The Whale finally release their debut album, Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down, off the back of the success of Shape Of My Heart and 5 Years Time. The results are mostly positive.

Guided by the lived-in vocal style of 21-year-old lead singer Charlie Fink, and driven by observations of love, death and time, the album is another to breathe fresh life into the folk genre, delivering a handful of cracking tracks that elevate it way above the norm.

It’s at its best when keeping things light, layered and drawing on the guest vocals of ex-member and general sweetheart Laura Marling. But it’s never less than engaging, even when charting more intimate and melancholy territory (as in the pensive Do What I Do).

Beginning with the spritely fiddle of 2 Atoms In A Molecule and the romantic notion that “last night I had a dream we were inseperably entwined”, the album quickly begins to win over your heart, following it up with the similarly engaging, fiddle-laced acoustic folk of Jocasta.

But it really gets going with the layered former single Shape Of My Heart, which begins as a simple folksy ramble about life and love, before adding Marling’s beautiful backing vocals and then drawing on a trumpet-like fanfare. It’s a lovely song that really does blossom into epic life.

Do What I Do is almost too sombre a track to follow it, and will probably catch listeners off guard, but Give A Little Love is a lovely low-key listen that makes good, subtle use of Marling’s backing vocals, which offer a soothing contrast to Fink’s. It’s about this point in the album that you’ll realise there’s a lot more to Noah & The Whale than engagingly kooky, upbeat anti-folk. They have depth, they display all kinds of emotions, and they’re not ones to rest on their laurels.

Second Lover has a wonderfully stripped down kookiness about it (it’s the type of track that seems bound for a Grey’s Anatomy montage) as well as some delightful lyrics (“oh when will your hand find itself in mine?”), while firm album highlight 5 Years Time (aka the song with the whistle) succeeds in winning you over time and time again no matter how many times you hear it. It’s one of the anthems of the summer of 2008 and succeeds in delivering a little musical sunshine that the sombre English weather often fails to achieve on its own.

Thereafter, the album continues to shuffle along in amiable style. Rocks And Daggers is another crowd-pleaser, where the fiddles once again come to the fore, along with an engagingly brisk back-beat, and title track Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down has a reassuringly acoustic feel (reminiscent of campfire Jack Johnson), albeit with slightly darker lyricism.

The tender Mary, another song to feature Marling a little more prominently, and the similarly intimate slow-burner Hold My Hand As I’m Lowered round things off in suitably impressive style.

If there’s a criticism, it’s that Noah & The Whale can’t always reach the highest standards set by their single choices (5 Years Time, in particular, stands out as the best track by a long way), but Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down is never less than an engaging listen that will arguably get better with time.

Download picks: Shape Of My Heart, Give A Little Love, 5 Years Time, Second Lover, Rocks And Daggers

Track listing:

  1. 2 Atoms In A Molecule
  2. Jocasta
  3. Shape Of My Heart
  4. Do What You Do
  5. Give A Little Love
  6. Second Lover
  7. 5 Years Time
  8. Rocks And Daggers
  9. Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down
  10. Mary
  11. Hold My Hand As I’m Lowered