Album Review: Cardboard Fox – Out of Mind – Fresh and joyous!

I was lucky to meet this young Bath-based band at a festival in London Ontario Canada (July 2016).

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I love this CD a lot and I’m wondering why I don’t listen to this kind of music more often. What do I like about it? The unusual big fat double bass line by John Breese in a folk music set up in the opening track More Than You And Me? The unashamedly catchy tunes? The fine, airy close harmony vocals of twin sisters Charlotte and Laura Carrivick backed by crisp banjo, and mandoline by Joe Tozer? The smooth fiddle playing filling spaces with flights of fancy and double-stopped harmonies? All of those… But above all, the album just seems fresh, light, and joyous, and the clean recording captures this well. It has the same vibe I liked so much in my review of Galician band Talabarte.

The told me they’re a kind of a bluegrass band. They’re not really. They play some bluegrasss style numbers, such as the original Couldn’t Find the Time, and Hiding in High Vis, with its flying fiddle melody performed by Laura, though interestingly composed by main vocalist Charlotte.  But essentially they are a British contemporary folk band without baggage that feels at liberty to pick and mix styles from both sides of the Big Pond, a great advantage. Hey, in their live set in London Ont they even cooked up a Justin Bieber cover for fun, so they’re definitely not folk purists.  It seems to be about songs with easy but intelligent melodies and with more real folk roots than the Mumfords. The title track Out of Sight is Out of Mind is a beautiful, simple ballad; it’s followed by an original Scottish reel, but also thrown in are a cover of a 2014 Ingrid Michaelson synth-pop track and the last number is Dylan with extra fiddle.

Most of the songs are slower rather than faster. Most are originals composed by the band members, some with quirky subjects like Gotta Run.. about needing to get away from a boring conversationalist – probably to follow the creative drive to run and write a song about it.  If I have a small criticism it is that, for me, some of the band’s lyrics are a touch cliched ‘You don’t have to go it alone… I’ll always be here waiting on the end of the phone’. So it was a good move to include three covers for a different style of words. The messages are more personal rather than social,  and the easy lyrics add to the overall positive accessibility. But if they are taking lyrical inspiration from the likes of Dylan, that bodes well for future albums.

Someone else can tell me who Cardboard Fox may emulate, but it seems to me that they have enough originality in their approach and arrangements to make a mark, achieve
success and to attract audiences of all ages.

Here’s my lo-fi clip of their live performance of Out Of Mind at Sunfest London Ontario.
And a Bluegrass-tastic one.
And an official band clip of More Than You And Me.

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