Crake – Dear Natalie EP

Leeds four-piece Crake deliver a trio of alt-folk gems swathed in earthy autumnal tones on their new EP, Dear Natalie

Album Review by Katie Cutforth | 14 Jun 2019
  • Crake – Dear Natalie EP
Album title: Dear Natalie
Artist: Crake
Label: self-released
Release date: 14 Jun

Faithfully following the rule of three, this summer sees Leeds-based band Crake release their third three-song EP in three years. Depicted as "a love letter to a best friend", Dear Natalie is a trio of alt-folk gems swathed in earthy autumnal tones, each track exploring distinct variations upon a theme.

The band have only recently returned from a European tour supporting Big Thief, another four-piece from whom Crake take considerable inspiration. Like Big Thief, Crake’s music is virtuosic and sonically slick but exudes a kind of controlled chaos; although different moods and styles are explored there exists an ever-present tenderness.

The record is opened by lead single Glycerin, which offers four bars of roughly strummed guitar before plunging us into its gloomy depths. It's anxious, moody and smooth, showcasing the quiet power of Rowan Sandle’s vocals which delightfully retain an unmistakable Yorkshire accent. 'I’m perfect, I’m disastrous and thin', she declares, a major chord arriving on 'thin' to offer a spark of hope in the darkness. As the song progresses, parallel melodies and modal harmony brings to mind the rustic medievalism evoked by Fleet Foxes.

But Crake’s sound has too much depth and flexibility to be characterised simply as folk music. Elsewhere there is colour – Sea Pink is an enticing indie track that brings a fresh optimism, before suddenly slowing in the second half to sink back into a comfortable melancholy. Finding a middle ground between the two moods, the closing track Oil bleeds nostalgia, Sandle’s husky voice in a melodic falsetto atop swirling picked electric guitar.

The band will reportedly spend the next few months "writing new material and anticipating the autumn" – so without wishing the summer away, there’s more to look forward to from Crake as the nights grow shorter.

Listen to: Glycerin