Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker Overnight

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker Overnight
7
On their third full-length release, traditionally influenced English folk duo Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker gently push the boundaries of the hey-nonny-nonny genre. In the past, they've done marvellous things by incorporating Americana and blues influences into their songwriting, and Walker's exquisite guitar playing, combined with Clarke's perfect English Rose of a voice, make these songs seem like the folk music of a new but oddly familiar country.
 
Overnight's departures from form are subtle. A song like "Something Familiar" shows how they can take English trad influence and write it into a modern folk song, while a traditional number like "Weep You No More Sad Fountain" is made immediate sounding and relevant. Most of Overnight is an exercise in delicate melancholy, with a lovely cover of Gillian Welch's "Dark Turn of Mind" being one of the album's best tracks.
 
Unfortunately, some of their stylistic experiments go in directions that are not so much doleful as dreadful. Tracks like "Milk and Honey" and "The Waning Crescent" veer into lite jazz territory, complete with a "Careless Whisper"-y sax solo. The mashup of English traditional and '80s melodrama soundtrack never needed to happen. (Rough Trade)