“Fairport Conventions’s folk with Fleetwood Mac’s pop sensibilities” NME
“The real thing… like harvest itself coming into bloom” Artrocker
Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou return with their new album Quality First, Last & Forever! this June on Heavenly Recordings, the follow up to their entrancing self-titled 2010 debut. Since then, they have continued to capture hearts across the nation with tours of village halls and tin tabernacles around the country.
Their recent show at The Social was described by the NME as having “so much harmony here that you forget about how discordant everything else is outside the beautiful world they have built”. Produced by Richard Causon with Adem and Dan Carey lending their mixing and production talents, the new record is a defiant leap forward for Trevor & Hannah-Lou, who have penned a modern folk-pop masterpiece.
A quiet but deliberate statement of intent, the new album title itself spells out exactly what the pair set out to achieve with this record; Quality First, Last & Forever. Displaying a very simple and very British stoicism, the new record is brimming with that unassuming confidence and marks a return to authenticity and passion in music and art, as seen through the eyes of this perfectly harmonious couple as they make their small but important stand against anything mediocre and trite.
The husband-and-wife duo, who first met as students of Goldsmiths College and previously performed in the band Indigo Moss, have an affinity with old-fashioned buildings, having previously ventured on tours of village halls and Tin Tabernacles, so the derelict 14th century pub they found themselves in to write the new album, was a natural fit. “The inn was surrounded by rapeseed fields, which at that time of year were in glorious yellow bloom,” remembers Hannah-Lou. “The pub turned into four months of beautiful, rent-free living space and our first recording studio.”
One of the earliest songs to arrive, ‘Making It Count’, was also one of the most significant. Combining close harmonies with a big chorus, it’s as sunny and carefree as the atmosphere in which it was created. It caught the attention of Dan Carey, the producer behind hits for Kylie, Hot Chip and Emiliana Torrini to name a few. After hearing some of the early recordings, Dan loved it so much that he asked if he could mix two of the tracks, ‘Spin Me A Rhyme’ and ‘Making It Count’. Much of the rest of the album was mixed by Adem, and recorded and produced by Richard Causon, a man who shared the duo’s love of tape machines and traditional approach to making records.
So what, exactly, are Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou doing writing radio-friendly pop songs? “We took life a lot more seriously on the previous record,” says Trevor. “‘Making it Count’ was something that had been knocking around for a while and you start to think: wouldn’t it be fun to have a song like that? Previously, I wouldn’t have let myself get away with it. But when there’s no pressure or expectation, you think: sod it. I guess we ended up writing songs a bit more naturally.”
Perhaps the song that best captures this feeling of rural freedom is the gorgeous closer ‘The Passing Of Time’. Over a dextrous guitar figure, the couple sing the defiant refrain: “I’m off to find my own piece of land / Where I can stand the passing of time”, sounding like a contemporary Richard and Linda Thompson.
Unfortunately, their time in the pub was also about to pass. In June 2010, the building was suddenly and unexpectedly sold. However, it wasn’t long before their new collection of songs came to the attention of Jeff Barrett, founder of Heavenly Recordings. After seeing one of their stunning live performances, Trevor and Hannah-Lou landed themselves a new record deal. As Jeff recalls; “On the stage stood two young people, sharing one microphone and harmonising both vocally and personally. The chemistry between them even extending to their wardrobe: austere, agrarian, post-war, stylish, very stylish. I was hooked. I had a new favourite band.”
In an era of deadlines, downloads and musical ADHD, it is an album of old-fashioned excellence that will adorn your CD collection when all else in it has withered away. Mostly though, you’ll be reminded that music needs people like Trevor Moss and Hannah-Lou right now – people with artistic integrity, to whom quality is everything. Which brings us back to that album title.
“A marvellous painter in my class at Goldsmiths had drawn a piece with this title,” remembers Trevor. “It was a text piece: white on blue, with a red border. There was a variated effect behind the text, which, on first glance, looked like it had been sponged. When you looked closer, however, you discovered that it was an intricate repeating pattern, which had all been done freehand. It must have taken months. It appeared so simple, yet was secretly extraordinary. I always liked the idea of hidden effort: you’re not really interested in showing it, except to people who care.” Extend this album the same courtesy, and you’ll be rewarded with a similar experience: understated songs that bloom like a field of rapeseed and are as English as a 14th Century pub.
To coincide with the release of ‘Spin Me A Rhyme’ on 13 June, the first single to be taken from the forthcoming album ‘Quality First, Last & Forever!’ Trevor Moss & Hannah-Lou continue their pioneering approach to touring by taking to the rivers and canals of England en route to their debut Glastonbury performance, stopping off to play a series of dates at towpath pubs. Before boarding their canal boat, the duo take their ‘Quality First, Last & Forever!’ show across the country in May and June, kicking the tour off by returning to play a special guest slot on 5 May at London’s Finest Folk Club; The Lantern Society (the club they established in 2008) at the Betsey Trotwood.