Multi-instrumentalists Sarah Kemp and Andrew Scrogham take time out from their various musical adventures (including a stint in Lanterns on the Lake) to combine their talents for the second Brave Timbers album. 2010’s for every day you lost was a Kemp solo work but here, the mix of piano and violin makes for a sonic and narrative deepening of their minimal oeuvre.
Hope is small scale in the extreme but its austerity is an indicator of its courage. Texture, mood and deep harmonics define its low-key but advanced compositions. The mood is plaintive throughout and even without the benefit (or hindrance) of words, Hope has much to say. ‘Season’s Past’, where even fingers scraping on guitar strings threaten to disturb the mood, typifies the album’s under-stated ambience.
‘Stillness’ is just that: minor chord piano and strings as backdrop create a wash and little more, but even without distinct melodies and rhythms, Brave Timbers find ways to communicate and connect. As ‘A Break in the Clouds’ and ‘Swimming in the Isar’ expand the template and display a more lyrical side to the duo’s deep musicality, Hope‘s less-is-more aesthetic becomes inarguable. ‘In the Long Grass; ‘After the Rain’; ‘First Light’; all of these pieces take their cue from the earth and they hum with a rare wonder. Hope, a hugely connective and deeply moving work, is true to its name. Somewhere within, the rural idyll becomes the stuff of reality.