You can get Bear’s Den’s first EP one of 2 ways. Either you pick one up at a live show, or if like me you don’t get one at the gig you have to go through a process of sending the band an email and waiting for them to reply with a secret password, which you will then need to enter into their personal online store. Then and only then, will you be able to order the EP. And you’ll probably have to wait another 2 weeks for it to arrive.
So is the hassle worth it? Most definitely. Lovingly crafted by the three piece in a welsh cottage, their brand of simple chilled out folk is a pleasure to listen to. The EP is underpinned by the well-balanced interactions between the two guitarists. Andrew Davie’s acoustic guitar, which provides often intricate repeated melodies, blends wonderfully with the more powerful rougher sound of Kev Jones’ electric guitar (which he switches for a banjo on Pompeii). On tracks such as Hard life, the band moves from a bare-bones melody at the beginning, to a loud swelling resonance by the end that gives Bear’s Den a distinctive sound.
The vocals are rich and full of emotion and the tight harmonies give the songs a sense of well-polished unity. The song compositions are strong throughout with the highlight of the five tracks being Pompeii – a track that takes Davie’s acoustic guitar, combines it with a banjo and simple percussion, to create a beautifully tragic song about the death of a loved one. There’s no big tricks here, no unnecessary embellishments, just the three band members whose instruments and voices are wonderfully combined in a great collection of songs. And to top it all off, in an attempt to make the EP truly theirs, the album packaging is even crafted by the band (with a potato printed bear claw on the front of the CD sleeve).
So what’s the downside? How much of a hipster you will sound like when you tell your friends about this tiny folk three piece who’s EP takes three weeks to arrive because it was hand-printed… in a welsh cottage.
/ Thomas Kirby