Released: August 2014
Vena Portae, Latin for ‘vein portal.’ With music channelling the spirit of life forces, and taking influence from journeys along roads and rivers, it’s no wonder that this folk trio decide to name this less-than-vain project as such.
A supergroup of sorts, the band consists of Emily Barker (of Red Clay Halo notoriety), Swedish multi-instrumentalist Ruben Engzell and singer/songwriter Dom Coyote.
Barker’s vocals are pushed to the fore out of the three, but the whole record absorbs the country duet feel to wonderful effect.
Simple songwriting, melancholy stories and gentle lazy Sunday tunes are the order of the day, from the opening chimes of hammock swinging Summer Kills to the book under a tree reflections of All Will Be Well.
The album has abandoned all pretences of production sheen to go for a more rustic, live feel, and it works a treat across the 11 tracks on this debut record.
Particular highlights are the harmonica tinged swagger of Foal, the continental charm of Solitary Wives and the most forlorn banjo you will hear on Transtalantic.
There’s perhaps an absence of stand-out tunes here, which would have elevated this record from good to great, but as a collective, Vena Portae offer much to love.