Saturday was Record Store Day, I did a long waffling bordering around the subject a couple of days ago so I'll try and avoid any debate again, instead I'll just say how I was introduced to The Cornshed Sisters, it was in a record store on RSD, yes, a record store.
Just like those joyous discoveries in the care-free (so people keep telling you) days of old, I was browsing Rough Trade West in between exceptional sets by Smoke Fairies and Allo Darlin' and saw a CD that caught my eye, it was by The Cornshed Sisters, I'd not heard of them before, RT's description intrigued me and the fact it came with a bonus CD with a cover of Prince intrigued me more. So I took a chance and bought it, yes in 2012 when I could have gone home and listened to some tracks online (or more than likely forgot about it on the journey home) I spent £9.99 on a CD I'd never heard by an act I'd never heard of. I'm glad I did.
The Cornshed Sisters aren't siblings but are a folk-pop quartet (made up of Jennie, Cath, Liz and Marie) from the North East of England (retrospective searching leads me to learn they include a previous member of Kenickie). The album 'Tell Tales' is delightful, ten tracks that instantly leave their mark and are guaranteed to brighten you mood. Part traditional folk stories that make you wish you were dancing around a maypole and part humorous musings, never more than on the 'sinister' "Pies For The Fair". Actually I take back what I just wrote, I'm not sure I'd want to be going to a May-day fete with The Cornshed Sisters if they like human pie! The Independent mentions The Wicker Man on their review and I can only concur, a track of surreal pagan-esque folk for the wry humoured amongst us.
It's impossible not to completely enamoured by their harmonies, they are divine, four angelic voices that mould together effortlessly. On the whole, the instrumentation is gentle and sparse, either elegantly strummed acoustic guitar or beautifully played piano, sometimes it's done away with altogether and the girls sing a capella, it works. The girls know their main instrument is their voices and they use it with beguiling power, "Tommy" the perfect example, hymnal in quality it's one of the more serious and definitely the most poignant on the album.
It's difficult to pick stand-outs, the whole CD flows so perfectly, "Dance At My Wedding" is definitely amongst my favourites (I don't think I'll ever come across a track that harmonise's the words "good job on the gravy"), it combines everything I've said before, it's witty, intelligent and unique. "Ocelot Song" is equally magical and perhaps the strongest vocal performance while "If You Were Mine" also needs to be mentioned. Oh, and yeah, the Prince cover is amazing too, "When Doves Cry" transformed to a barbershop quartet song, gorgeous. I'm sure Mr Nelson would approve.
Let's just say impulse purchasing has made a welcome return to my agenda. Next time you're in a record shop why not try it? 'Tell Tales' is available via rough trade (with that bonus disc) here. Highly recommended