Jon Boden is a busy man. One half of a superb duo with John Spiers; the singer and fiddler for Bellowhead, and a solo artist whose acclaimed debut, Painted Lady, was a dramatic work darkened by the hues of romantic obsession. Songs from the Floodplain is set on a larger, more epic canvas. It’s an apocalyptic vision of a world gone to hell in a handcart, a ravaged near-future where memory rasps like a collapsed lung over an open fire and whose inhabitants grapple with what has been lost, where they are now, and what they’ve got coming. He’s certainly got his timing right. Recession, depression, ruination, collapse – the four horsemen of the financial apocalypse could be the rhythm section here. Set against a rousing and deeply uplifting musical backdrop that draws on rock textures as well as folk and atmospheric chamber music. Boden plays all the instruments himself – guitars, fiddle, concertina, bass, percussion, bagpipes, banjo, harmonium. His voice is superb: it can carry heavy emotional freight – all the weighty, dark materials of his vision – but it can also rise above it with a declamatory ring of defiance, remembrance and confession.
This ambitious album captures the current zeitgeist of collapse, uncertainty and dread. Lyrically and musically it’s a tour de force, deeply atmospheric and resonant of common fears and escalating anxieties, but with an imaginative force that makes it an uplifting and deeply satisfying experience. Yes, things could turn out this bad. But there’s no doubt that Boden has turned out a consoling, classic album for troubling times.
01. We Do What We Can
02. Going Down To The Wasteland
03. Days Gone By
04. Penny For The Preacher
05. Dancing By The Factory
06. Beating The Bounds
07. The Pilgrim's Way
08. April Queen
09. When The Walls Come Tumbling Down
10. Don't Wake Me Up 'Til Tomorrow
11. Under Their Breath
12. Has Been Cavalry