Album Review: Keston Cobblers Club ‘ Alchemy’ is a thing of beauty

Keston Cobblers Club : Alchemy

The Breakdown


 After a two-year break-folk favourite Keston Cobblers Club return with their brand-new album, ‘Alchemy’ – the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2019 album, ‘Siren’ .  

Alchemy is the new album from Indie-folk band Keston Cobblers Club. Returning to their roots, the theme of the album is based on an old folklore from their hometown. The album’s feature The Anthem of the Alchemist tells the story of an Alchemist who dedicates his life to turning basic metals into gold, only to discover when older that the treasures he sought were always within him. He finds an old message in a bottle buried beneath Keston Ponds and Caesar’s Well that he forgot he had written as a child. It reads ‘You will find it right beside you. Forget the gold it’ll only blind you’.  

Using this fable the Cobblers set out to create an anthology of songs that would help guide the Alchemist and any other lost listener to discover their inner wealth. Just like the practice of alchemy, siblings Matthew and Julia fuse different styles and genres to create their own distinctive sound. Each track feels like a medicine or solution to a predicament, follow of ‘hook- laden melodies and impressive string arrangements that have clearly already won the band an army of loyal fans. Julia and Matthew have voices that compliment each other , and i can’t help but feel that the album is their own tale, intertwined with their journey so far as artists and as people. After all, life reflects art and the same can be told vice versa. Each track boldy fuses folkloric traditions of world- music trumpets, English – folk string arrangements woven together with a string of of earnest, heartfelt and accessible lyrics . The influences of early day Beirut and Arcade Fire are there, but it is the variety of song compositions that make this much loved folk band stand out.

The tracks follow a narrative sequence of finding oneself through the chaos, merging with qualities of beauty and wonder, to the more contemplative and reflective tales of stumbling across problems which don’t feel like a solution is so easily at the ready. Standout tracks ‘ Lullaby For the Wilde‘ feel like the band’s most musically impressive composition, whilst the more ‘dance ‘ like and jovial tracks ‘ Jupiter, ‘The Holiday‘ and ‘Find My Way‘ offer a sweet surrender to the creative process, again inline with the theme of the scientific and spiritual process of uncovering ‘Alchemy‘ . The search for what could be described a s visceral, moving need for gratification at one’s own search for the ultimate balance in life continues as a theme with heart – wrenching tracks such as ‘ Blood Runs Thicker ‘ and ‘ Eglantine‘ . The band’s rhythm section need to be given a special mention throughout ; they are the glue and vehicle for which these powerful songs stand, and I can only imagine how this band would sound live in their natural element ( pun intended). ‘ No You Are Not Alone’ is ultimately, a way of reminding that the creative process is something musicians use to unite each other with their own voice; to unite with the listener’ and to unite the listeners with each other. After all, isn’t that the purpose of Alchemy?

In line with the band’s ultimate desire to lift spirit and have fun, the bonus track ‘ Josephine’s Routine‘ is a reminder to celebrate the everyday, together as one.

Matthew says: ‘We wanted to return to the origin of Cobblers, delve into the folklore behind our ethos and create an eclectic album that is quintessentially “Cobblers’’. The album journeys from anthemic, raucous singles such as their first single Find My Way (released when the Cobblers were touring the UK with Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot in October), Rigmarole and Jupiter, to the stripped, beautiful song writing of Lullaby for the Wide Awake, Eglantine and Junctions. TheCobblers also go back to what made them unique from the start, with idiosyncratic tracks such as No, You Are Not Alone, Josephine’s Routine and Strangers Now. Julia says; ‘This album was a chance for us to have fun, that’s how Cobblers started, without the pressure of ticking certain boxes. After our 10 year anniversary we realised how lucky we are to still be making music full time. 

Their live shows are displays of genuine warmth and dazzling musicianship, honed over years of playing some of the UK’s biggest festivals, including Glastonbury, Bestival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Wilderness and Green Man; they even run their own festival – Camp WildfireBurberry asked the band to perform at their Menswear SS2016 event to a VIP audience and, after a triumphant UK and European tour in 2015/16, including sell-out dates at London’s Scala and Union Chapel, the band were invited to open for folk royalty Bellowhead on their farewell tour in 2015, as well as for pop legends Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot on their entire UK arena tour in 2021.

All focus is now on Alchemy, which will be supported by a UK tour, kicking off in Nottingham on the 21st April. There’s also another European tour in the works, and a busy summer of festivals. It just goes to show : hard work most undeniably, pays off. Well done !

Alchemy is out now April via Absolute Label Services  . Listen here

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