Dan Haywood: Dapple

Whimsical turn from the avant-folk wordsmith/bird fancier.

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No kooky, folky oeuvre is complete without a few birds, is it. Lancastrian ornithologist and singer-songwriter Dan Haywood has woven wren song, woodpecker drumming and other sounds of the Forest of Bowland into this naturalistic live recording.

After 2011’s 32-track ‘cosmic country’ colossus Dan Haywood’s New Hawks, Dapple falls into the ‘small-but-beautifully-formed’ camp — just shy of 23 minutes. Certain vignettes waver between beguiling, classical delicacy and affected pretension (it’s hard to sing ‘but lo!’ without sounding like a try-hard student poet).

Ruminations on fish dancing in stony goblets (A Trout) are, in isolation, unpromising, but as a collection, Dapple weaves a strangely transportive, warming spell. The ‘epic’ lover in you will crave more of the likes of Lapping Wave, which stops just as you’re ready to bask in another cosy verse. Similarly, acoustic guitar-led A Floral Dance fills your head with images of sun-bathed dappled barns and apple blossom for all of its two minutes.

Maybe it’s Haywood’s eccentric defiance of contemporary convention that makes Dapple seem oddly progressive in its own right. A small, quality dose of whimsy.

Polly Glass
Features Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is features editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine (opens in new tab) and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.