By Jo Murgatroyd
Released May 17th, 2013 - Fledge
A roaring fire blazes in the corner and it's cold outside, but your heart is warm as you listen to the lilting harmonies of Jed & Hera, a street folk duo hailing from the wintry city of Christchurch. They met while Hera was on tour with Jed's other band, House of Mountain, and now, having played together for just over a year, they have already released their debut album Live At York Street. With synonymous musical styles, and a seemingly endless fountain of creative ideas, their approach to music has been proven successful with Live At York Street reaching number 13 on the New Zealand charts.
The pared back arrangements of the songs highlight the beauty of the melodies and the depth of emotion in their voices, Jed & Hera's voices a perfect match. The lyrics are heart-rendingly honest, and combined with the music, work together to set an autumnal mood. Achingly sweet yet melancholy, I found the album easy to listen to and enjoy, the lyrics weaving a story I was quickly caught up in.
One of my favourite songs on Live At York Street, was Let It Be Easy. The song begins with tight harmonies, all the more spectacular because this entire album was recorded live in the studio. Hera's voice is faultlessly sweet and soft, the strength of the songs not coming from her belting out the notes but through the power of singing words and melodies she really feels and means.
Raking Leaves, another of my favourite tracks, sings, "Come in, come in, you're always welcome in my heart," and to me that sums up the feeling of the album exquisitely. Through writing about the raw emotions in their heart, Jed & Hera say to the listener, come and feel what we feel, come and see who we are and what we care about, come share our pain and our joy, and that is what makes this album work. Though it's just Jed & Hera with their voices, a guitar and a snare drum, they don't need anymore. The richness of the album comes from their willingness to be emotionally honest.
Live At York Street is beautifully and thoughtfully put together and very easy to listen to. The music and lyrics set a mellow, autumnal mood perfectly, and the fact that the album was recorded live gives the album a warmth not often found in music. Every song on the album tingles with the energy that comes from live performances: the tension of getting it right and the bluffing that comes when the song changes form in the spontaneity of mistakes. I am looking forward to seeing what Jed & Hera next release and where they go from here. A definite listen for anyone who enjoys great, local music!
3 / 5