Flats & Sharps are pitch-perfect on King of My Mind

King of My MindFive-piece Flats & Sharps deliver a one band folk festival on King of My Mind, from high energy main stage songs to gentler acoustic tent numbers. The young musicians hail from Cornwall but their diverse sound incorporates styles from across Britain, Ireland and the US.

The band show their versatility straight off on "My Life", which blends soulful vocals with energetic backing that frequently changes pace. A gentle interlude of humming in harmony is a stark contrast to the finger-bleeding banjo and mandolin picking that carries the rest of the song and rarely eases up throughout the album.

The production brings out the rich sounds of the group’s multiple vocalists and acoustic instruments. It is a bit too slick at times for the organic nature of the music, but there are some satisfyingly rough-around-the-edges moments as well. Bluegrass standard "Ninety-nine Years and One Dark Day" is a gritty, foot-stomping number and soul classic "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" is successfully reworked on the banjo.

The band deliver a rich mix of styles and emotions on the album which is mostly self-penned. "Someday" is optimistic and melancholy in equal parts and slow enough to appreciate the slightly off-beat lyrics: "A wise man once said I think I read it on the internet if you are discouraged you should now encourage others." "Caleb Mayer" is distinctly medieval in tone and "Isabelle" is rich in Irish folk influences – a classic tale of love lost punctuated with a gently infectious refrain and contrasted by the rocking bluegrass number, "Got You on My Mind", that follows. The title track, "King of My Mind", rounds things off with a hearty after-hours string and key-thumping jam.

The band describe the album as "an exploration of escapism, love, death and honesty... a result of experiences collected through youth, maturity, folly and wisdom." It is an ambitious amount to cover on one album. With no focal point or pervading style or attitude King of My Mind lacks the impact of a more clearly defined body of work. On the other hand it successfully showcases the versatile talents of a young and accomplished group. That is no bad thing with the festival season approaching. These songs are sure to set many a stage alight in the coming months.

Release: 12th February 2016, Move Your Hands


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