Album Review: Stornoway – You Don’t Know Anything EP

By on Monday, 28th October 2013 at 12:00 pm
 

Stornoway You Don't Know Anything coverOxford-based alt-folk quartet Stornoway have recently announced the release of ‘Farewell Appalachia’, the final single from their outstanding album ‘Tales From Terra Firma’ (My review of the album is here. If you haven’t yet seen the video for ‘Farewell Appalachia’, check it out here). Perhaps more exciting than that bit of news was the simultaneous announcement that the band will be releasing a new EP, ‘You Don’t Know Anything’, on the 11th of November.

The new mini-album, comprised of tracks left off of ‘Tales From Terra Firma’, has been described by frontman and primary songwriter Brian Briggs as “a collection of six songs from the farther extremes of our songwriting and arranging spectrum”. The sounds on this EP are conspicuously more synthetic than what we heard on ‘Tales From Terra Firma’, except for the song ‘Hook, Line, Sinker’, which hinted at the band’s psychedelic leanings.

The new collection of recordings begins with ‘When You Touch Down From Outer Space’, a fan favorite from past live performances. I smiled instantly at the first blissful sound of Stornoway’s vocal harmonies, which of course feature prominently throughout the EP. In standout track ‘Tumbling Bay’, those backing vocals are employed to a literal text-painting effect, with overlapping entrances creating the image of waves and continuing the nautical theme of ‘Tales From Terra Firma’.

Aside from the different shades of color, Stornoway’s beloved folk rock style is abundantly present on ‘You Don’t Know Anything’. The lyrics are, as usual, gracefully naturalistic, optimistic, and above all, eagerly earnest. Only this heartfelt sincerity could save some of the weaker lines, such as “I’ve less energy than a stick of celery” in the EP’s eponymous track. But Briggs’ customary lyrical gems quickly balance those strange turns of phrase, which come across as endearing little quirks when taken in context.

Briggs’ songwriting is still predominant on the EP, but notably three of the six songs on ‘You Don’t Know Anything’ feature songwriting by the other band members. Writing contributions by brothers Oli and Rob Steadman make this the most fully collaborative of Stornoway’s releases up to this point. The EP’s communal nature is further highlighted by the lavish brass arrangement of ‘The 6th Wave’, which involves a large number of additional players, as well as the appearance of familiar touring violinist Rahul Satija.

While not a significant departure from Stornoway’s previous work, ‘You Don’t Know Anything’ is accented by a few unexpected sonic twists that might provide a glimpse into the band’s stylistic development. Stornoway are set to wrap up 2013 with a tour of the UK and Ireland (dates listed here), and this EP will certainly whet the appetites of their fans both for the live shows and for Stornoway’s next studio effort.

8.5/10

‘You Don’t Know Anything’ will be released on 11 November in the UK. Pre-orders are available on iTunes or the band’s Bandcamp.

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7 Responses

12:02 pm
28th October 2013

New post: Album Review: Stornoway @StornowayBand’s ‘You Don’t Know Anything’ EP: http://t.co/sTZ568wYxc

12:52 pm
28th October 2013

Album Review: Stornoway – You Don’t Know Anything EP http://t.co/vPqKUJdR20 via @tgtf

12:55 pm
28th October 2013

RT @StornowayBand: Album Review: Stornoway – You Don’t Know Anything EP http://t.co/vPqKUJdR20 via @tgtf

12:56 pm
28th October 2013

RT @StornowayBand: Album Review: Stornoway – You Don’t Know Anything EP http://t.co/vPqKUJdR20 via @tgtf

1:05 pm
28th October 2013

RT @StornowayBand: Album Review: Stornoway – You Don’t Know Anything EP http://t.co/vPqKUJdR20 via @tgtf

1:24 pm
28th October 2013

Album Review: Stornoway – You Don’t Know Anything EP http://t.co/wEKoje9rGu via @tgtf

1:30 pm
28th October 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Stornoway @StornowayBand’s ‘You Don’t Know Anything’ EP: http://t.co/sTZ568wYxc

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