We’ve touched upon the genre of neo-folk in the past: it’s usually comprised of a darker take on folk music or an exploration beyond the borders of what folk even means. However, there are some instances where it means a rejuvenation, a re-working of the basic elements of folk music in an attempt to reinvigorate them rather than replace them with new ideas. This is where Leafblade reside, a project fronted by Sean Jude but enjoying the illustrious contributions of Daniel Cavanagh of Anathema. This should already clue you in to parts of what you can find here: The Kiss of Spirit and Flesh is an emotional album, relying on catharsis, loss, love and hope to imbue its lyrics and music with energy and direction. At it’s base, this music leans heavily on acoustic guitar, lilting vocals and sweet delivery but by adding a few more touches to the mix, it avoids cliche.
Take “Bethlehem” for example. While it does indeed open with those guitars I mentioned, especially sweet on the first chorus, it also features a tolling bell, guitar chords strummed with force around the two minute and ten seconds mark. These lead an electronic and ominous edge to the creation, contrasting beautifully with both the preceding and anteceding choruses but also with the guitar that keeps on playing in the back ground. After the next chorus, the pace picks up, with drums introduced to the verse. Those drums might sound familiar and with good reason: Daniel Cardoso of Anathema is behind them and his masterful hand is as punctual and amazing as ever.
Other examples for such touches can be found throughout the album: take “Portrait” for example. Multiple vocals are utilized here in a beautiful way, creating so much more from the nature-worshiping lyrics, almost summoning a scene of multiple voices in the forest. That track is also one of the best examples of the power of this album: while the lyrics are simple they are also evocative and the vocal delivery leaves nothing to be wanted. It’s powerful yet delicate, able to wield immense emotional without ever outdoing or drowning the rest of the instrumentation. Seeing as this is a folk album, with all the fragile sounds that entails, this paramount to proper delivery.
While this album is somewhat of a rarity, you can order it from none other than Kscope. I urge you to do so: it’s a deceptively simple album which holds a lot of joy and power beneath its outward exterior. It has been a constant companion of mine for a few years now; I keep discovering new things hidden between its tracks, nascent until my mind alights on them. I expect to be listening to it for a long time, exploring its rich twists and turns.