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The October Game

A solemn orchestral intro gives way to a snappy folkrock approach and ensemble vocal. Earnestly impassioned in its own way, the group’s lively rhythm section  set up a relentless churn, offsetting a stately chorus. There’s a hint of Richard Thompson here, the master of windswept pastoral heartbreak and elemental anguish. Maybe the sepia countryside sleeve art depicting a regal stag against a forest gave the game away, this isn’t city/automated jittery music, it’s the dead opposite and touches on a separate strands of loneliness and dilemmas.

On third cut ‘Right On Time’ an acoustic chug again underpins the song which incorporates buzzy guitar lead lines and a conspiratorial vocal delivery ; semi-martial drums support twinkling and weaving guitar melodies against another plaintive vocal on single ‘Concrete’.

‘Boxing Underwater’ misses yours truly entirely. But on ‘Something Wrong’ the progfolkrock  noble tempo works well and there is no chest-beating as the dynamic arrangement clicks. It’s probably the best-realised cut on the set and essentially elemental folk, from any chosen perspective be it instrumentation, phrasing, whatever.

‘Biplanes At 2AM’ cries out for a female lead vocal, ring Kate Rusby lads ! On ‘Where The Devil Loses out’ the group sound at their most confident, edgy pacing at the core and another wrought tale, with a positive guitar lead overlay. Surely this is a live favourite ? Closer ‘Night Vessels’ has a sad and sombre ambience.

The October Game have an overall Dickensian feel (and he never strayed from human interaction tales, after all) and honed storytelling flavour, the selections are consistently well-played and hauntingly sung though there are precious few smile-inducing moments. The set certainly showcases Luke Williams’ aching voice in great style but they need a ‘Tear-Stained Letter’ or ‘Old John Robertson’ or two to balance up the record’s mood

Pete Sargeant

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