White Devil’s Day Is Almost Over
The definition ‘freak-folk’ is all too often used to describe any modern troubadour with a slight quaver to his voice, or an eerie, backwoods air. The debut album from Mancunian folksmith Neil Burrell, however, rather deserves the epithet. Beginning with ‘Ooompa Zoompa (Four Voices)’, a fiddly, arcane number that pictures a ’60s folk club being invaded by Willy Wonka’s miniature workman, Burrell tarries woozily through fields of shimmering acoustic psychedelia and Syd Barrett-style tales of spiders, fisherman, geese and sharks, the distinctly wyrd effect intensified by a light dusting of lo-fi distortion. The charm fades slightly by the twelfth track, but at his best, Burrell is a curious delight, like the freakish boy Euros Childs’ family keep locked in the attic, who has escaped to tell his tale.