CD Review: One Mile an Hour – One Mile an Hour (Snowbird, 2012)
This South England trio describes their debut as “outsider folk,” and while it certainly bears strong influences of Pentangle, Fairport Convention and others of the UK’s ’70s folk-rock movement, several of the tracks also compare to the winsome tone of Big Star. The opening “Sunken Ships,” in particular, echoes the feel of Chris Bell’s 1970s solo work, itself no doubt influenced by what was then happening in the UK. The self-produced recordings, made in their home-built studio, have the sort of crispness in the picked acoustic guitars and intimacy in the vocals that Big Star achieved at Ardent. Apart from the writing, playing and singing – all of which are impressive – the recordings sound gorgeous.
The band draws much of its inspiration from nature: the ocean visible from their studio is a primary muse, with the rhythm of waves pulsing through their music. But there are also pristine mountains spoiled by greedy manifests, sentinel magpies, and introspective songs that map emotions to physical landscapes. The tempos are easy, creating an expressive instrumental tone; the band’s confident enough with their music’s texture to place an atmospheric interlude in the middle of the record, a short driving instrumental at track eight and a powerful ten-minute jam (the latter recorded at Abbey Road) to close things out. This is a sophisticated and well-wrought album that ought to be picked up by an enterprising label with good ears.