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Album review: The Lost Cavalry “Three Cheers For The Undertaker” (Folk Radio UK)

August 20, 2013

The Lost Cavalry - Three Cheers For The Undertaker - cover artIt’s been a busy year for The Lost Cavalry, with numerous live shows and a split 7″ single with Keston Cobblers Club, and their debut album Three Cheers For The Undertaker slated for release on 16 September on Folkroom Records, but the band shows no sign of easing up. Listening to the album, a solid collection of a dozen songs which sit firmly in the indie-folk/folk-rock field, it’s not hard to see why they’ve been catching the attention of music magazines and blogs alike.

With a lineup of six musicians (sometimes more at live events), the temptation to record an album which uses everything but the kitchen sink must have been immense; however it’s to their credit that The Lost Cavalry not only managed to avoid such a pitfall but have also come up with a well-produced record where the songs have room to breathe.

Secret Steps opens proceedings and starts the album as it means to continue with the distinctive voice of founder member Mark West (ex-Fanfarlo) front and centre. The song builds with other instruments pitching in before the coda returns to just guitar and voice. Snow City Radio is a contemporary winter’s tale, its tinkling percussion evoking blizzards before lead single Stars Are Ripe, essentially a meditation on loneliness, benefits from a decidedly rocky bridge.

The ballad Stare Out To Sea drifts in on a slow tide of guitars, flutes and harmony vocals with some nice percussive touches while The Elephant Of Castlebar Hill is driven by some intricate polyrhythms. The intertwined strings of Fara Fara weave around an insistent beat before some atmospheric effects bring it to a close. Only Forward features the much-maligned ukelele to good effect and the simplicity of the song’s arrangement allows the band’s vocal harmonising to shine.

Desert Tracks draws on folk-rock idioms, its nimble shuffle supporting one of those catchy hooks that you find yourself humming hours later. Telescope is a more reflective song, its sparse percussion offering some interesting textures as the guitars flicker like distant stars.

A more traditional folk style appears at the start of King Of Kings, a dreamy ballad that gathers momentum to a crashing crescendo. Last Stand is a delicate lament which builds to a stormy conclusion and closing track Mono peaks with some fierce, distorted lead guitar before fading to silence.

Three Cheers For The Undertaker is a deceptively deep album which takes a couple of listens to fully appreciate but once it gets under your skin, as it surely will, it becomes clear why the band’s star is in the ascendant; a highly accomplished debut album which bodes well for The Lost Cavalry’s future.

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Originally posted at Folk Radio UK (20 August 2013)

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