Record review: Jo Mango – When We Lived in the Crook of a Tree [Olive Grove]

Jo MangoGlasgow folk favourite Jo Mango returns with a beautifully crafted EP, originally commissioned for Celtic Connections last year.

For want of sounding twee, listening to these four songs has the effect of hearing birds singing as you walk through trees on a white winter morning.

Fittingly, ‘Send in the Crows’ does include some very melodic bird impressions.

During the writing process, Mango was influenced by Angela Carter’s Book of Fairytales and this unorthodox take on the story-telling genre comes through.

The lyrical narrative plays out a rural fairy tale of sorts, from a melancholy beginning to a brighter ending.

Title track ‘When We Lived in the Crook of a Tree’ opens the record with a haunting piano backdrop and whispered vocals; always an artist for including unexpected instruments, the mandolin makes a subtle but brilliant contribution to this song.

‘Seasonless’ is understated, with unsettling background noise of what could well be a procrastinating artist tidying her desk or making a cup of tea.

The second half of the EP picks up the pace, with nursery rhyme vocals and infectious rhythms in ‘Send in the Crows’ and ‘Take Your Medicine’ brings the record to its peak with a minimalist build-up of sounds and affecting lyrics.

At times it seems a shame to bury such a soft voice beneath strong instruments, however it is this distinctive production that contributes to the dream-like quality of the music.

Fans will not be disappointed with this artistic addition to Jo Mango’s work, ahead of a second album rumoured to be released next year.

Words: Ellen MacAskill

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