High Shelf Remedy

High Shelf Remedy is the new name for the Bournemouth based Psychedelic/Folk act The Fox & The Owl. The band decided on a name change after a string of errors with music venue/promotors who kept getting it wrong. It also gives the band a chance to relaunch themselves with some subtle changes to their sound, along with a self-titled new album. The band’s line-up features Lu Davis (Vocals, Guitar, Bass & Piano), Lauren Johnson (Vocals & Ukulele), Rich Stannard (Electric Ukulele), James Poynting (Drums) and Paul Tucker (Guitar & Bass). The album recording was made and produced by the band’s driving force Lu Davis at her home studio named the ‘Under the Gutter Studio’; where she spent the months during the Covid-19 Lockdown weaving and crafting the recordings that had been made in early 2020 into a full-bodied experience, additionally including Banjo, Cello and Piano not usually available from the band’s live experience.

The album features 10 original tracks with an extra bonus track available if you purchase the CD. The songs were all written organically. Lu or Lauren wrote most of the songs alone or together on a single instrument – a ukulele for Lauren, and a guitar, ukulele, or piano for Lu. They would bring the skeleton of a song to the band to craft, structure, and develop with them. Rich wrote the lyrics for track two. The collection of songs has been a long time coming: like most bands there is a collection of rough recordings, live recordings and backroom tapes lying about and gathering dust; none of which do them the justice they deserve. Richard explains “so often you cringe at your own work but if we can make something so good that we forget that it was even us when we listen to it, we will have succeeded. Our aim was to have an album that we can play in the van while heading out on holiday and feel like we’re listening to someone else, like one of our favourite band’s music”.

High Shelf Remedy

The album opens with “Taken by the Water” and with the band living close to the sea there is certainly a nautical flavour weaving its way through some of the tracks. You can immediately get a feel for the textures that the band are creating with the subtle rhythms along with the unique melodic sound of the combined strings, coupled with the divine harmonies from Lu and Lauren. The song gently trickles its way around the mesmerising chorus where lines of “Taken by the Water” are repeated over. “Mr Speaker” combines some dub bass, together with some string melodies on this politically motivated track; while ruthless outlaws Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow are the subjects of the next tune “Bonnie & Clyde”. The criminal duo is used in an analogous way to describe an intense relationship, the song with its infectious nature and the beautifully intricate ukulele solo show the band pushing the boundaries of their combined creative abilities.

“Hummingbird” with its delicate piano, sonorous Cello and slightly sinister vocals appears to be coming from a much darker more sombre place than any of the previous songs. In contrast ‘Not Anymore’ reminds me of 1990’s Bristolian band Portishead with the sultry smooth vocal delivery, this song gently builds and builds with the musicians together creating a beautiful full sound on this great track. Next up we have “Wild Woman” and this sees the band once again stretching their  abilities with another tune that mixes dub bass with piano, along with some impressive string arrangements. You will need a decent set of speakers to cope with the depth of bass on “The Drought”, a tune that reminds me of the very long Summer of 1976 where hosepipe bans were in force and the sun shined for what seemed like an eternity.

High Shelf Remedy

“Chico” turns things around again with a tune reminiscent of that Johnny Cash train track style; while “Knots” shows off the girls beautiful harmonies, once again backed with some wonderfully atmospheric Cello. Ever felt the desire to go out on a boat to enjoy bobbing up and down on the sea, only to feel seasick when you get out there? Well “High Shelf Remedy” tells a sea shanty of a romantic who falls for a handsome blue-eyed ‘Fisherman’ and joins him in his boat, only to regret the decision. A great little tale of the ups and downs of dating this seafarer, only for it to end rather abruptly. If you prefer having an actual CD in your hands rather that digital downloads then HSR will reward you with a bonus track called ‘Honey Bee’. It’s a song that the band opened their highly entertaining set at the Lighthouse in Poole as part of their ‘Live & Unheard’ set. The song is a bright uplifting number, full of the member’s finest talents and one certain to be in their live set when they are able to get out to play a gig again.

The album features some sterling production work and a wonderful collection of musicians who each bring their own unique styles to each track. The songs reminds me of better times and sitting in a green field somewhere while ‘High Shelf Remedy’ entertain me with their unique vibe.

High Shelf Remedy

Taken by the Water
Mr Speaker
Bonnie & Clyde
Not Anymore
Wild Woman
This Drought
Honey Bee (Bonus Track on CD only)

Line Up
Lu Davis (Vocals, Guitar, Bass & Piano)
Lauren Johnson (Vocals & Ukulele)
Rich Stannard (Electric Ukulele)
James Poynting (Drums)
Paul Tucker (Guitar & Bass)

Additional Musicians on the recording
Tom Cory (Drums on tracks 1 & 5)
Ben Thomas (Banjo on track 3)
Romeo Kennedy (Bass track 10)
Lorna Davis (Cello tracks 2, 4, 9 & 10)

Purchase The Album here.


Words by David Chinery (Chinners).