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Dan Haywood: Dapple

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

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.