Review: Communion, “The Flowerpot Sessions”

Flowerpot Sessions
Image Courtesy of Communion

In July last year Communion, the UK based nu-folk club night and burgeoning record label started by Ben Lovett (Mumford and Sons), Kevin Jones (Cherbourg, The Bear’s Den) and producer Ian Grimble took over London venue The Flowerpot for a series of very special shows. The shows, featuring the likes of Pete Roe, Passenger, The Staves, Mt. Desolation, Damien Rice, Marcus Foster, Matthew and the Atlas plus Australians Angus and Julia Stone and Sarah Blasko, saw the performers not only play their usual live sets but also had Communion encouraging them to collaborate with each other and write brand new material.

The result is the two or three (depending which version you buy) disc album The Flowerpot Sessions bursting with awesome folky goodness. The copy I managed to get my hot little hands was the standard, two CD edition but I’m not complaining – that’s over two hours of music from some of my favourtie up and coming bands.

Beginning with Kill it Kid and The Joker and the Thief collaborating on the awesome blues number “Something Funny”, you know that The Flowerpot Sessions is going to be something special. For a live recording I’m surprised at how crystal clear the production is on the album and how little audience noise has been captured. The skills of the performers combined with the outstanding mixing/production means a very polished album that could well have been put together in a studio.

It’s almost impossible to do justice to just how many standout tracks there are on The Flowerpot Sessions. Almost every single song is a masterpiece but a few do need a special mention:

The Treetop Flyers, a group that hasn’t been featured on Timber and Steel yet but really should be, contribute their track “It’s About Time” to the first CD and it’s an absolute gem. The opening guitar riff is almost Celtic in the way it dances over the guitar but Reid Morrison’s lead vocals drag the song straight into the twenty first century with a sense of pain and longing.

The two contributions from Angus and Julia Stone, “To Let Go” performed with Sarah Blasko and the Grease cover “You’re The One That I Want” performed with Damien Rice, are at the standard you’d expect from the brother/sister duo. I’ve heard “You’re The One That I Want” so many times from the Stones so this version is almost passe (even with the inclusion of Rice) but “To Let go”, which was written for the performance, is just mesmerising.

Probably my favourite track off the entire compilation is the brand new Passenger song “Patient Love”. Mike Rosenberg’s ability to craft a seemingly simple song with the lyrical depth and maturity of “Patient Love” is a true gift – I really hope this one makes his next album.

Other highlights include “Mexico” by The Staves, “Bellina” by Pete Roe, “Movement” by Marcus Foster, “For Birds” by James Moss (featuring harmonies from The Staves), “All I Want” by Sarah Blasko, “Beneath The Sea” by Matthew and the Atlas, “Little Eyes” by Crowns and the awesome Blind-Boys-Of-Alabama-esque “Old Fashioned Morphine” by Tom McKean & The Emperors.

Overall a stunning album from start to finish – and I’ve only heard two of the possible three discs. If this is an example of the talent that Communion is able to muster it’s no wonder that they’re one of the hottest labels in the UK right now.

The Flowerpot Sessions currently has no Australian release date (despite the inclusion of the Stones and Sarah Blasko). If you’re keen to have a listen to tracks from The Treetop Flyers, Kyla La Grange, Passenger and Matthew and the Atlas head over to this I-D Magazine article and scroll down to the end for a link to some free downloads. Other than that you have to scour the interwebs for a download or hard copy site that delivers to Australia. If we hear anything about a local release you’ll be the first to know.

Watch the “trailer” to The Flowerpot Sessions below:

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