Saturday, 17 November 2012

Josienne Clarke

One Light Is Gone
(Hatfish, released November 2010)

Josienne Clarke is an emerging talent on the London folk scene. Although she took classical singing lessons as a teenager, hers is a voice free of contrivance, husky in its upper register, well suited to the singer-songwriter terrain she now occupies.

On this, her debut album, she’s accompanied by Ben Walker, a guitarist with a technique to die for. He studied classical guitar before moving to folk fingerstyle in the manner of Jansch or Renbourn. As well as doubling on mandolin, he supplies discreet string arrangements on several tracks.

Sometimes – ‘Midnight Moon’ is an example – Clarke can sound like the omnipresent Laura Marling, but in general her sympathies, and her careful diction, are closer to the 60s and 70s sirens she admires. I hear Linda Thompson; I hear Shelagh McDonald. 

She has trad songs in her repertoire, but this debut album is all her own compositions. The title track is a wistful ballad vaguely reminiscent of the Thompsons’ ‘Dimming Of The Day’. ‘Done’ circles round unassuming guitar arpeggios. In contrast, ‘All My Truth’ is jaunty and bluegrassy, evidence that Clarke is no one-trick pony.

I know her to be an engaging live performer. This album can only win her new friends.