- 03 Mar 15
Gorgeous minimalism from Dublin indie collective
The vehicle of former Ten Speed Racers man Patrick M. Barrett, The Hedge Schools delivered a promising debut – but that was almost seven years ago. Whatever happened in the interim certainly hasn’t hurt – At The End Of A Winding Day is a triumph of minimalist beauty, a collaborative effort that sees gold struck.
The opener, the title track, passes without a word, and the following eight tracks are little nuggets of pared down beauty. Barrett’s former bandmate Joe Chester is on production duty, and he also combines with Donagh Molloy and Kevin Murphy on the writing and playing fronts. To flip a well-worn cliché, more have produced less – the stripped-down result is spellbinding.
The restrained approach allows the music breathe; at times it is lush and cinematic, at others it’s beautifully sparse and threadbare. Everything from the vibrations of the vocals to the gentle scratching of fingers dancing on the fretboard signals that this album is an intimate and authentic performance.
It is graceful and poised, but its fragility is counteracted by a strength of composition, in a fashion not unlike that which saw Damien Rice’s O rocket to success all those years ago. Understated it may be, but songs like ‘Winter Coat’ and ‘Halo’ don’t just get in the head. They envelop the listener entirely, like a warm fire.
It closes, fittingly, with ‘A Song For JM Barrie’, a suitable finale for an album that takes you by the hand and leads you to a unique kind of promised land.
Key Track - 'Oceans'