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Devin Hoff: Voices from the Empty Moor review – stellar lineup for the twists of Anne Briggs | Folk music

Motivated by Bikini Kill to pursue a musical profession in the Nineties, bass participant Devin Hoff has spent the previous decade impressed by one other radical artist, the people singer and songwriter Anne Briggs. In the 60s and 70s, Briggs revived English, Scottish and Traveller songs and wrote her personal beautiful, twisted compositions earlier than retiring to rural Scotland. Hoff is a long-term experimentalist and collaborator who has labored with Yoko Ono, Cibo Matto and Sharon Van Etten – the final of whom is one of a number of stellar friends on this uncommon set of reimaginings of Briggs’s work.

Voices from the Empty Moor cover art
Voices from the Empty Moor cowl artwork

Julia Holter and drummer Jim White seem too, however Hoff’s bass ought to command the most consideration. It units the scene majestically on opening observe She Moved By the Truthful: layers of lengthy, low, scraped notes creating shuddering, rumbling textures, suggesting a door to the underworld opening up (and maybe the arrival of “the useless love” in Briggs’s model of the ballad). It’s equally commanding on The Lowlands and Maa Bonny Lad (on which the saxophonist Howard Wiley offers fractious however fascinating accompaniment) however finest on The Snow It Melts the Soonest/My Bonny Boy: easy and delightful. Accompanied by oud participant Alejandro Farha, Hoff unfurls the tunes in expansive new methods.

The visitor vocalists supply extra combined outcomes. Van Etten’s beautiful voice weirdly doesn’t work on Go Your Manner, showing like over-refined window-dressing, and Emmett Kelly’s informal supply on Black Waterside feels glib. Holter’s unearthly choirgirl vocals work higher on Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (though they teeter on the edges of a Nuggets-style psych-folk anthology pastiche). Shannon Lay’s tackle Residing By the Water fares finest, her voice unaffected and beautiful, channelling Briggs’s direct, indomitable spirit.

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