Vena Portae – Vena Portae
Latin for vein portal, Vena Portae’s eponymous album delivers soft, atmospheric folk sounds representative of the band’s nomadic ponderings during their time on the road. Made up of Bafta award-winning singer Emily Barker (Red Clay Halo), multi-instrumentalist Ruben Engzell, and singer/songwriter Dom Coyote, this Anglo-Swedish supergroup are releasing their debut album on 18th August 2014.
Diving straight in, opening track Summer Kills instantly propels us away from the traditionally brooding aesthetics of folk music and jaunts along with a sound more comparable to Dolly Parton than Joni Mitchell. Containing an uplifting pop melody, Barker’s emotive voice complements the catchy guitar rifts perfectly and instils a warm fortifying hope that is tantamount to a feeling of overcoming terrible heartbreak.
Although remaining heavily folk influenced, Vena Portae often leans on the pop genre to great effect, combining broader vocal ranges with busier instrumentals. This provides the entire LP with a colourful and more expansive sound, the perfect example being the track Foal, a beautiful amalgamation of reflective folky lyrics and punchy riffs.
Despite its positive motif, the album is never frivolous and two sobering tracks, Turning Key and Transatlantic, offer a distinctly darker and more considered approach, indicating the ablum’s integral optimism has been hard earned. Both songs, cast in a Nordic mould, have been stripped back to expose Coyote’s grittier vocals. The result is music that conjures imagery of contemplative cabin fever, potentially experienced by Vena Portae, who recorded the entire album while snowed-in inside a small claustrophobic Swedish town.
An album thematically pertaining to love, loss and longing characteristically does contain its share of wistful and solemn soul searchers, but they do not reflect from the real heart of this beautifully affirmative LP. Avoiding a maudlin tendency often found within similarly tailored music, Vena Portae’s final track, the sweet All Will Be Well, provides the perfect swansong and brazenly reveals the driving sentiment behind the band’s musical philosophy: hope.
Vena Portae is released on 18th August 2014, for further information or to pre-order the album visit here.
Watch the video for Summer Kills here: