by Chris Familton
Melbourne duo The Weeping Willows released Till The North Wind Blows last year but their superb collection of songs could have dropped at any time in the last hundred years, such is the timeless quality they bring to their music and songwriting. The album drips with authenticity which can be a hard thing to harness in this day and age where technology pervades every part of our lives.
The heart and soul of The Weeping Willows is the vocals and tambourine of Laura Coates and the vocals and guitars of Andrew Wrigglesworth. A partnership in both love and music they really do complement each other with a lived-in ease. Their voices intertwine and balance each other with Wrigglesworth possessing a stern, authoritarian tone against Coates sweet bluegrass lilt. Hers is a voice that manages to embrace a gentle beauty and a rich strength. On Lesson Learned she sounds empowered and assured, a characteristic that is reinforced across the album. On the closing track Home For The Broken Soul she delivers some devastating notes, crying for a devastated soul in a pure, aching country wail that should stop even the most casual listener in their tracks.
Comparisons to that other bluegrass couple – Gillian Welch and David Rawlings – are hard to avoid, particularly the symbiotic relationship the pair bring to their music. Wrigglesworth’s guitar playing also brings to mind the magical work of Rawlings. Possessing a dazzling dexterity and sensitivity in his playing, Wrigglesworth is the third crucial factor (alongside their vocals) that elevates their songs beyond standard Americana-fixated tales of love and loss based in themes of nature. He provides the third voice via his guitar, whether it be the brisk strumming of Free As A Bird, the Harvest Moon-era mood of Barron Creek or the light stepping finger picking of single Down Below.
Till The North Wind Blows deserves to reach a wide audience both globally, and locally from fans of Wagons, Ryan Adams, Little Bastard, Kasey Chambers and everyone in between. This is music that mixes songwriting, storytelling, virtuosic playing and the simple delight of two perfectly matched voices singing in harmony to excellent effect.