Rychard Carrington reviews The Willows' debut EP

The Willows' EP cover
Local Cambridgeshire Artist


The Willows’ debut EP confirms their arrival as accomplished purveyors of folk-pop. Their EP launch gig proved both that they are an engaging live act and that they already have a large local following (many of whom had to be turned away from the sold-out performance). Neither aspect was really a surprise, as the five-piece band – Jade Rhiannon, Cliff Ward, Prue Ward, Steve Maclachlan and Ben Savage - come with a history on the Cambridge music scene – notably charming singer Jade’s solo career (which featured a quite similar line-up of backing musicians) and her husband Cliff’s involvement with an number of impressive acts, perhaps most notably Lightning Jack.

Folk groups can often lose much of their appeal on record, away from the intimacy and immediacy of live performance, but on these four songs (Down River; Searching Within Chaos; Senses, Out Of Our Hands) The Willows weave a spell of gentle charm, with four summery ballads, reflective but uplifting in feel. Acoustic guitar is to the fore, while Prue Ward’s fiddle greatly enhances the soft richness of the sound. A picnic on Grantchester Meadows on a sunny, lazy day is the image that comes to mind when listening to this EP. All four tracks are equally strong. Lyrically perhaps the most interesting is Out Of Our Hands, which is about the founding of the Red Cross. Overall there is something of the feel of some of Sandy Denny’s ballads.

Watch out for future live appearances by The Willows, and meanwhile check out this quietly delightful EP. ( A similarly absorbing reproduction of a painting by Emmanuel Martin comes thrown into the bargain.)

Writer: Rychard Carrington