Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker. Nothing Can Bring Back the Hour.
I’ve been trying to spread the gospel of Josienne Clarke for years, and I’ve committed more ink to her than most other artists I love, except perhaps Sam Amidon. Her voice is utterly beguiling, firm with confidence and power, yet fragile with temerity at the same time and almost tremulous. When turned to the forge of old British ballads, it’s sublime, a prime example of youth teasing new life from old traditions. But on her new album with longtime musical partner and arranger Ben Walker, Clarke & Walker step full to the center of the British folk scene, with Walker building buttressed string arrangements around Clarke’s vocals and Clarke writing songs that flit between indistinguishable-from-the-tradition, and brand-new songcraft to push the genre forward. It’s a masterpiece of an album and a sign that Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker are at the top of the game right now.