Red River Dialect
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Red River Dialect are currently a six strong band of human animals, brewing a lightly carbonated folk-rock from the psycho-spiritual malt of David Morris’ songwriting. Morris began molting and recording songs in 2002, and from 2006 the majority of these songs were performed as Red River Dialect; either solo or with a revolving configuration of musicians from the folk and improv scenes in Falmouth, a harbour town in the Celtic region of Cornwall.
In 2008 Simon Drinkwater joined Morris, playing mostly guitars, and the pair recorded and self-released the duo album White Diamonds in late 2010. Around this time Morris and Drinkwater met Coral Kindred-Boothby, who joined them in their performance of a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Billy 4’ at an open mic night, playing a spare harmonium. Kindred-Boothby introduced them to Ed Sanders, who, despite insisting he had only begun playing the violin 6 weeks previously, was cajoled into joining. The band’s former drummer, Hugh Cowling, joined in early 2011, and the songs that became the 2012 long-player “awellupontheway” quickly took shape; recorded in July 2011, two months before most of the band went on their way to other parts of the UK.
A fragmented period was to follow, with the band meeting up to play shows and write new material as and when they could. Kindred-Boothby and Morris were living in London, others in Brighton, Cornwall and even “up North”. In 2014 Morris borrowed some field recorded equipment, and used it to put down a set of 12 songs, without an idea of what they might become; a time when writing songs was the only way to work through a time of mourning. They started to coalesce into a solo album, but then gradually the rest of the band came to visit one by one, adding their singing strings to the songs. It was during this time that pianist Robin Stratton joined the band, and his piano became a key voice on the resulting LP Tender Gold and Gentle Blue.
That lp was without percussion or electrified instruments, and in its wake the desire to jack in to some amplification was auspiciously met with a chance encounter. Kiran Bhatt auditioned in the early summer of 2016 on some pots and pans in a kitchen with Kindred-Boothby and Sanders, the morning after a party at the home of artist, and close collaborator with the band, Hannah Rose-Whittle. The chemistry was strong, and over the summer of 2016 the band wrote and recorded the forthcoming LP Broken Stay Open Sky. The band hopes that paragraph five of this ongoing hagiography will include tales of European and North American tours, solo albums from the multi-talented members, and further collective brews.
Tender Gold and Gentle Blue reviews:
Drawing on late '60's British folk-rock and psychedelic music, this is a quiet and desperate record that is always but a squall away from breaking apart. It would all be unrelenting if Tender Gold weren't so damn pretty.
- Lars Gotrich, NPR Music
4/5 stars. Agreeably shambolic Hiss Golden Messenger-admired Falmouth folk collective led by David Morris, whose reedy vibrato chokes back sobs on evocative songs of Cornish coastal contemplation.
8/10. A set of acoustica driven by strummed and picked guitars shot through with cello and piano. Brave and different.
- Neil Spencer, Uncut
8/10. Inspired largely by the tragic loss of a parent, it's evident in nearly every aspect of these beautifully introspective songs that this is as much an emotional investment for him as it is for the listener. This is a beautifully composed album and one which frequently feels like a blessing that we even get to hear it at all. Nobody has to share their feelings like this but we're damn lucky that a select few do, and we should most certainly appreciate that.
- Ben Philpott, Drowned in Sound
This is a subdued, melancholy album, colored by the death of Morris’ father and unwinding in lush, ruminative, string-derived textures of bowed cello and violin, picked guitar and banjo and somber piano. It is all rather lovely in a pure, simple, clear-water kind of way, moving in its reticence and obliqueness.
- Jennifer Kelly, Dusted
Critical acclaim for Red River Dialect and awellupontheway:
Fervid three-guitar and fiddle workouts. You could place them as an Anglo-Celt analogue to folk-rock churners like Arbouretum and, especially, PG Six, though there’s something of The Waterboys circa “A Pagan Place” in there, too.
- John Mulvey, Uncut (also in his top records of 2012 list)
Red River Dialect are interesting in that they appear to fuse this traditional strain of inclusive, rabble-rousing folk rock with more adventurous, psychedelic influences that place them right at the genre’s cutting edge… (they) are neither bandwagon jumping dilettantes nor finger-in-the-ear luddites, but experienced musicians and long-term enthusiasts whose fusion of styles is always in service of the song… "awellupontheway" fuses folk-rock’s past with its future, carrying forward the energy, urgency and melody that has long served the form well, and merging it with the more experimental, avantgarde approach of some of our most exciting guitar bands.
- The Quietus
Some of the greatest fist-in-the-air fisherman jams since the Waterboys. Awesome stuff.
- Ben Chasny, Six Organs of Admittance
(These songs) take the lilt and roll of British sea chanties and blow them into amplified, feedback-droning, violin squalling anthems. This is, no kidding, one of the best folk-derived, psych-filtered rock albums of 2012, a great hoary rampaging beast of a record that rakes bloody, violent claws through the symmetries of traditional folk.
- Dusted Magazine
It’s heartening to see such an organic, non-trendchasing band get such a decent reception. As the record industry continues to downsize, it seems that the increased importance of the live circuit has given a fillip to bands, like this one, that can actually play.
- Bearded Magazine (live review)