Various, Mumford & Sons, Andrew Davies, Elena Tonra, Beans on Toast - Communion Compilation

Tiffany Daniels 23/02/2010

Rating: 5/5

Compilations are a strange animal - they can offer a superb introduction to a genre, a record label or a scene, but more so than any other record format, they are capable of failure: the best fit like a jigsaw puzzle, weaving sound and selected musicians together; the worst catapult from artist to artist and resemble a disjointed mess.

The Communion Compilation is a success; that much is evident from the role call alone. Pulling tracks from some of the most influential folk, country and acoustic artists in Britain at the moment, it faithfully floats along its chosen path without once hiccupping onto a side road.

Although Communion Records was founded last year, the project has been promoting club nights and gigs in London and Brighton since 2006, when its founders Ben Lovett and Kevin Jones met at Notting Hill Arts Club. Unsurprisingly, both Lovett's band Mumford & Sons and Jones' former Cherbourg band mate Andrew Davies appear on this release: the first offer a rerecording of Feel The Tide's “Sister”, and Davie his debut official recording, the sublime “Lie Down in the Blood”. Elsewhere Johnny Flynn and Jeremy Warmsley contribute, alongside Peggy Sue and Alessi's Ark; the now retired Jay Jay Pistolet submits “Vintage Red” and Beans on Toast, perhaps the most out of place musically, his classic “Things to do Before You're Thirty”.

Established names are not the only drawing attraction, as there is also a bounty of undiscovered talent on show. Women are not proportionally represented on Communion, but Elena Tonra does an excellent job at certifying her superiority with “Peter”, a gorgeous ballad to an eternal youth grown old, and Rachel Sermanni donates “My Friend Fire”, an ethereal number not dissimilar to Lisa Mitchell. Of the remaining acts, Marcus Foster demonstrates his skills on “Circle in the Square”, one of the more blues-infused tracks, and Jesse Quinn and the Mets' “The Sculptor and the Stone” is also a highlight - crystal clear and simple in its beauty.

At a whopping twenty-one tracks long, one can't fairly complain about the absence of some blatant musicians and Communion fellows, but it does seem that a few are sorely missing; particularly weak tracks, such as Stokes William's relatively mundane “Zion” and Broadcast 2000's “That Sinking Feeling”, could have been replaced with the scene's better counterparts - and no, I am not referring to the big 'L'. However, given the already generous length, and the time and effort producer Ian Grimble has awarded the reworks, it would be unreasonable to suggest this is anything other than perfect. I'm just vying for a Communion II.