Delicate, sensitive and occasionally haunting, August and After’s debut ‘Embers’ is an enticing first effort
Meticulously crafted over a 6-month period in their respective London bedrooms, acoustic-folk duo August and After (comprising of Ned Mortimer and Vedantha Kumar) release their debut album Embers. Citing influences from the likes of acoustic-folk gods Radical Face and Bon Iver, in Embers, the confident and assertive duo have crafted an admirable and impressive first album.
The familiar features of folk music are all present on the duo’s debut: careful guitar playing, near-choral harmonies and assistance from strings and brass for that extra oomph. Embers is very soft and subtle in tone, with the duos delicate vocals pitter-pattering like rain drops throughout. However, the lyrics do not always reflect this temperate tone. Waltz for Marie follows the story of a domestic abuse victim – a fairly weighty theme for a summer release! The Jailbreak Song is quite an intriguing piece, featuring guest vocals from Emily Marchant and also, bizarrely, foreign language spoken-word sections. The opener Halley, which starts with a gentle tight-lipped mumble and then soars into a string and brass climax, is a definite highlight. Additionally, with its nimbly-plucked strings, The Orchard is another stand-out track.
All the best debut albums exude confidence (just look at other folkies such as Ben Howard or indeed, Bon Iver) and considering Embers low volume, it’s definitely what you could call quietly confident. It really is very good. What I found to be particularly enjoyable about the record is the sheer mass of collaborations. The pair have got a lot of talented people (with ten guest musicians featuring on the album, such as Tom Fromant and Sophie Jamieson) to join them and it sounds great. Embers is a thoroughly pleasant record which I would heartily recommend to anybody. Give these guys a go, you won’t be disappointed.