UTR151 | LP/CD | 12 tracks | Buy
Part speculation, part reminiscence, what results on the new album RPG is music that sounds ultimately displaced and yet omnipresent, adjacent to a hapless Vonnegut hero whose life is scattered throughout time and history, but full of wonder and curiosity rather than fear.
On track 'The Oldest Trees Hold The Earth', we see time stretched out between the branches of impossibly old beings in the woods. This track was co-written in Aarhus, Denmark with fellow Newcastle folk musician (with Danish heritage) Ditte Elly. The pair wordlessly passed a sheet of paper between each other to write the lyrics, inspired by Hojbjerg and Mosegard, the woods they were sitting in. "How long should I wait/Before the moss grows?/On my skin, on my outstretched arms," the lyrics are sung in a round, the close harmonies delicate and detailed.
A central thesis of this album is the joy of creation, something which is paid homage to in the album's final track, 'Science And Art' (Not because we need it to last/just because we needed to make it - so we invented the words/this language). It is also reflected in the definition that Jayne gives for "folk" itself. She comments, "To me, folk is quite an expansive idea. I think of it as creative work that's often made ad-hoc, with things that are at hand and more often than not it's born of a DIY ethos. It is songs and stories of the people, as in the traditional sense, but also creative coding, game design etc. Whatever outlet someone has for their creative expression could be described as folk. It's the things we make because humans need to make things, and the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us."
Crucially, on latest album RPG, Dent expands her songwriting and looks towards the unreal locations of worldbuilding in video games for inspiration. She comments, "I think the main similarity is the importance of a song's setting/environment to inform its narrative and textures, I'm often most inspired when out walking in the natural landscape, in cities and travelling to places I've never been before - the environment I'm in really impacts the work I make. While writing this album, however, I found myself inspired by imaginary landscapes, those in video games, paintings, etc. I was writing stories into these unreal locations instead. Even the songs inspired by real places, like The Oldest Trees Hold the Earth, have a very surreal quality to them in the songs, like they're being warped and turned into something not of this world. I think that's the main difference for me in terms of the thematic content and inspiration behind this album - I've been getting more and more interested in balancing surreal and fantastical environmental elements with ordinary and everyday settings."
RPG upends the concept of the eternal return - we may be in the midst of inevitable repetition, but we tell stories whilst awaiting the passage of time.