Having only existed since September 2012, Ninebarrow have begun with a bang after winning Larmer Tree’s Breakthrough Awards 2013 and gaining a slot at the prestigious festival. You can catch them on the Thursday alongside Mother Ukers and Polly & The Billets Doux, to name a couple.

The duo – Jon Whitley and Jay Labouchardiere – combine the ever-popular tenor ukulele as the subtle accompaniment to their stunning tenor vocal duet. They’ve already played at several folk clubs all over the country and gained many a rave review. I can’t say mine will be any different there.

Upon seeing the pair play live at Sixty Million Postcards back in April, a huge grin was immediately put on my face by the combination of three things I love: the ukulele, vocal harmonies and folk-inspired melodies. What more could you acoustic-lovers want? The simplicity of this set-up creates a sound youíll be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Given how great their set was, I was glad to hear about their 7-track EP, “Kingdom”, named after one of the songs, which came out on the 7th of May this year.

The minimalism of Kingdom’s first track “Birdsong” takes the listener on a dreamy journey, with its mellow, finger-picked tenor ukulele tones and well-matched vocal harmonies. The song’s harmonically repetitive nature is saved from being overworked by the pure loveliness of the track, and is a clear reflection of the traditional folk style that influences the duo. Perhaps itís fair to say that its repetition is what made the song memorable for me after the gig. Short and sweet “Honeybee” is also a stand-out track. With a subtle nod towards Soul its sassy vibe feels different to the rest of the EP’s folky style and shows off Jon and Jay’s vocal ranges.


Kingdom EP starts out heartening, but its mood becomes progressively more serious with the track “Island at the Edge of the World”. Although the song is equally as attractive as the first few, it has noticeably adopted features of “Birdsong”, only in a minor key. This is a shame considering Ninebarrowís originality in other songs. “The Sea”, another strong number, raises the drama with its atmospheric ascending phrases and edgy minor key. The record ends with the melancholic “Walk With Me”.

All in all, Ninebarrow create an ear-catching and harmonious vibe with their clean set-up. Perhaps in the future a few tweaks could be made to make sure tracks don’t share too many qualities; and longer tunes composed to balance out Jon and Jay’s tendency to write short songs, but the band are musically original and their potential is undeniable. They’ve achieved so much in under a year and, most importantly, created some exquisite sounds. I expect to see them at more fantastic folk festivals in years to come. And with a full album please, boys!


Track Listing
Come January
Honey Bee
Island at the Edge of the World
The Sea
Walk With Me


Listen on Line here.

Buy the EP from Amazon here.


Review by Jasmine Watkiss.

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