Hatchling - Emily Portman
Recently being adopted by the pyschfolk crowd is something of a mis-match for Emily Portman. Yes, she might be a little, er...strange, but certainly shouldn't be boxed. Planet Portman has a huge gravitational pull of its own. But those who enter beware, guidebooks are unavailable and you may become entangled in a myth within a song. If evidence is needed, 'Hatchling' is a reference to the offspring of Leda, queen of Sparta, and Zeus, born in the form of a swan and hatched from eggs.
Emily's voice is an instrument of wonder; graceful, yet full of mystery. Here framed as a rightful centrepiece it largely dictates melody and mood. Once ensnared by the eloquent otherworldliness of the lyrics the listener will have some concerns: will Jack be reunited with his mermaid? Can the sailors escape the rivers of mead? Do they want to? Dispense with the CD's booklet at first and just enjoy the ride.
We return to last year's EP and the new year celebrations of 'Hinge Of The Year' ('there's vodka and wine and blood in the gutter' - one of two Angela Carter inspired songs included) and 'Scorching Sun', a different version to last year's with the brass instruments being replaced by Alasdair Roberts and a classical style guitar arrangement: still a god amongst tracks, although it has some competition here, mainly from Emily's sensuous hymn, 'Sleeping Beauty'.
Delicate strings from regular team Lucy Farrell and Rachel Newton trace the lullabies, madrigals and tunes and Emily's concertina, banjo and ukulele lend a touch of robustness. None of this is required for the acapella 'When You're Weary' written after her mother requested a happy song. Emily, the dutiful daughter, even saw fit to leave out the verse about the werewolf!