Album review: Building On The Land – Arcelia by Anna Morell


Kent-based Arcelia have been quietly building a discerning national following since their debut album, ‘Wrap Your Bones’ came out in 2014. There’s a solidity to their craft as songsmiths and singers, as each has honed their skills for years before finding themselves in a holy trinity of harmony in this band.

There is a maturity to Gavin Alexander’s lyrics which puts him in the same league as Eddi Reader and Roddy Frame as a songwriter – something which has been picked up by Squeeze’s Chris Difford, who has been somewhat of a mentor and tour buddy in recent years. There is an ease and simplicity to his words – a gentle observing and a keen knowingness – which wrap up hope, longing, melancholy and experience into balm for wearied souls.

Simon Foster’s life as a blues and soul singer is evident on ‘The Old Farrier’ – a folk-titled song which peels back into the intimate domestic life of an elderly couple, with all the passion of years of deep connection roaring out of Foster’s honeyed volcano of a voice. ‘Yellow Soup’, a pacey trip through night time walks and everyone they pass hangs similarly on his tone. He is a storyteller, and you believe him.

The smoky, late night vulnerability of ‘Into The Dark’ is a perfect showcase for Teresa Gallagher’s delicate voice. Vocal tone is a massive part of Arcelia’s draw. Musicality matters to them. The harmonies in the chorus evoke Crosby, Stills and Nash, as Perry White’s piano laps smoothly round them like water.

There’s so much beauty in this album. Such a range of ideas across the songs – heartbreak, missed opportunities, memories, progress, history – but all come pretty much back to the same thing: connection, intimacy, harmony. The things that really enrich life. These are songs to make you smile, and cry, and to make you reconsider and be thankful for the people around you. This album will enrich your life.

Building On The Land is available at Gatefield Records, Whitstable and Smugglers Records, Deal, on download from iTunes and Amazon, or by mail order here: