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Faraway Folk - Seasonal Man CD (album) cover


Faraway Folk


Prog Folk

3.17 | 5 ratings

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3 stars There is very little of Faraway Folk’s discography that I would classify as progressive folk; indeed, most of their music teeters between traditional arrangements/covers and sedate, rather boring contemporary folk. One exception is their final release ‘The Battle of the Dragons’ which can only be classified as silly and a bit narcissistic. ‘Seasonal Man’ is the other aberration for the band, a pleasantly charming mellow prog folk album featuring tasty fuzz guitar, easygoing female harmonies and just enough mandolin, banjo and harmonica to qualify it as a legitimate folk offering.

Band founders John and Shirley Turk have had a long (although only modestly successful) career in the folk music business. This is their most notable (but not only) band, and easily represents the apex of their creative output. John Turk lays down some pretty tight fuzzed licks on his Gibson throughout the album, something that is sadly scarce on most of the band’s other albums which instead feature a lot of acoustic strumming and lack the creative ambition he demonstrated here. As the story goes, the Turks spent most of 1974 tending to a friend’s studio, which left them ample time and access to recording equipment. The band responded by recording and releasing the now impossible-to-find cassette ‘Especially for You’ and this LP, both on the obscure RA label.

Like I said, this is laid-back music and not something that will appeal to fans of heavy prog or even many folk fans. Think Bread, Love & Dreams, Mellow Candle, Tír na nÓg or possibly some of the more laid-back work of the seventies folkers Nirvana and you’ll get a sense of the sound. The title track sets the mood beautifully with John Turk’s crisp fuzzed Gibson, Shirley Turk’s lazy harmonies and Bryony Smith‘s persistent rhythm. Adrian Morris adds a slight touch of harmonica here to fill some of the transitions, and the net result is a casual, moody tale of the coming winter (as a metaphor for change if I’m not mistaken). “Coming Back To Brixham” is the other song with exceptional electric guitar.

The band shows their British roots with a Renaissance-tinged “The Yule Log”, as well as “Cherry Tree Carol” later on the album; while “Sparrow” and especially “Portland Town” are more in the vein of traditional British folk as most of the band’s subsequent albums would be.

I wonder too if the band spent some time checking out the Pentangle or Comus in their spare time after listening to “Crow on a Cradle” and “Patterned Moon”, two slightly heavier tracks with somber lyrics and edgy enough to capture the imagination of any more than casual listener.

Finally the band offers a straightforward contemporary folk tune in “Summer's End”, full of rolling banjo licks, gorgeous three-part harmonies and a summertime love story for lyrics. A happy and fitting way to put an upbeat mark on the album.

This is a rather forgotten band and so a forgotten album; I think that’s unfortunate. A quick check on Google and anyone can see this is a band that lost its creative edge quickly as they aged past the early seventies and into their middle-aged years; I can picture them performing at small county fairs and old-folks’ homes well into the eighties. But this one album deserves some attention as their humble version of a magnum opus – a brief but noteworthy attempt to leave their creative mark before time and tedium would make that impossible later. Check this record out if you can find it. Easily three stars, and I might come back some time and make that four.


ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |


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