Joe Volk - Derwent Waters
Clark Summers 02/02/2006
Trading in the “extreme riff worship” of his experimental rock band Gonga for an album of gently diverting folk music in the Drake/Martyn/Jansch mould seems a particularly perplexing move on the part of singer-songwriter Joe Volk. “Derwent Waters Saint” isn't a particularly bad album, it just seems rather ordinary when compared to the cream of the current folk crop whether it be the prosaic, heartfelt alt-folk of Jim Moray or the experimental tics of Devendra Banhart and company. There are flickering moments of quality here most noticeably on “Thaumaturgist” (an acoustic pop gem in the rough that recalls the early promise of Turin Brakes) and the folk-ed up genius of the oddly monikered “Toecutter”. Unfortunately for this listener though the rest of the album seems to blend into a rather grey whole that isn't helped (ironically) by Volk's rather fey, anaemic sounding vocals. Less talented singer-songwriters have gone on to achieve vast commercial success (on the dinner party circuit) but on the basis of this album it's perhaps advisable that Volk stick with the band who liken themselves to “the four horsemen of the Apocalypse jamming at Stonehenge” as they sound infinitely more entertaining!