The titles of Oxford, UK based Stornoway‘s two full length albums, their new Tales From Terra Firma and debut Beachcomber’s Windowsill, conjure up images of adventure, of what might be glimpsed through the pane of glass, of what might be discovered just a bit further down the road. It is through this intrepid spirit that the band is able to inject a certain energy, part courageous, part temerarious, yet always good-hearted, into their branded sound. You get the impression that the band is equally influenced by the classic stories from Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, H. Rider Haggard, and Arthur Conan Doyle, as they are from the pantheon of UK folklore and balladry. Stornoway combines these influences, whittles them down into something more intimate, the quintessence of these epic adventures, and sets them to music – their chamber folk-pop stylings.
A word on their music – Stornoway is often times lumped in with or criticized for being too closely related to the current wave of pop that co-opts elements from the folk music tradition, particularly prevalent in the UK. To that point, I would say that while some comparisons and musical similarities do exist, Stornoway has bridged out far beyond this rigid structure and have created a musical language that is unique to the band. Plus, they are just much better. The harmonies shine more vibrantly, the instrumentation and attention to detail with additional orchestration are more interesting, and the stories are much more exciting and bold. On their latest album, Tales From Terra Firma, the band, now worldly experienced, takes you along for the journey. They maintain that spirit of discovery, but this time around, it is often colored with nostalgia, a sense of longing, and, from time to time, hints of sorrow – a more mature adventure to behold.
Stornoway ventured to the XPN Performance Studio on May 2nd before their concert at Kung Fu Necktie with Field Report (who we have also had in for a Folkadelphia Session). These acoustic session takes are wonderful introduction to their Tales From Terra Firma.