Whalebone Polly consists of two successful singer-songwriters: Kate Stables, who performs under the pseudonym This Is The Kit, and Rachael Dadd, who has flirted with the limelight as a solo artist and as half of Bristol-based duo The Hand. Both women originate from Winchester and, as Taproot & Sill proves, both are to folk music as salt is to brine: essential.
Opening track ‘The Turnip Turned’ is a superior ballad, a subdued tribute to life and the world spinning on. Dadd takes lead vocals over a backdrop of fingerpicked banjo, astral guitar and understated support from Stables, her thoughtful, poetic imagery and a subtle horn solo adding up to an early standout. ‘Good Good Light’ picks up from where the song leaves off, but adds an uplifting atmosphere and lends the limelight to Stables. ‘Sometimes The Sea’ may dip in spirit but its carnival-at-dusk attitude attests to the duo’s diversity, while closing track ‘Window’ resolves that Whalebone Polly are the closest human imitation to the sound of a nightingale.
As folk music becomes more popular, it’s getting harder to source original and uncompensated material. Whalebone Polly are not only true to their ears, they’re true to the ground; Taproot & Sill is folk in its purest form, with no sly electricity and no chance of the dreaded term antifolk being applied. It’s a relief to find something this accomplished and beautiful mooring the turbulent shores of the South West.
[Dreamboat; September 15, 2009]