Silent Shores is the debut album by Mersey duo The Folk Doctors. Comprising of tunesmith John Armstrong and lyricist Ultan Mulhern, the collaboration began when they entered the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge at View Two Gallery in 2016. Recorded at Crosstown Studios in Liverpool with producer Jon Lawton, the duo turn in a solid set that explores various reflections on life.
We Were Soldiers is perhaps the highlight of the set, tracing a family member, who fought on the front line during the First World War. No Place I Call Home represents the first fruits of their collaboration when it was entered into the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge. The song is based on a painting of a ship by Peter Appleton and is a reflection on the passage of time. The shipping line provides a dominant theme that is repeated throughout the album; whether it be on the lead off track Birkenhead or the underdog in Hardest Working Man. According to the writers; some of the songs started out as poems (Sit It Out being an example).
The album takes a few stylistic diversions; like on the driving rocker Cover Our Tracks, which concerns the Grenfell tragedy. The autobiographical How Short The Time adds a country flavour. Instrumentation such as the ukulele on Reflections Unseen and banjo on Storyteller add nice touches. There are dark flourishes to be found on the dramatic The Nobility Of Rain; perhaps the most important production on the album. There’s much to involve the listener; both musically and lyrically and that’s where the strength of their songs lay. It may take a couple of listens to fully appreciate what’s on offer but it’s worth the effort.
Silent Shores by The Folk Doctors is a strong reflective set with some fine storytelling.
Stuart Todd has helped run and host the award-winning Liverpool Acoustic Live music events with Graham Holland. Stuart is currently a solo artist, having previously worked with classical guitarist and composer Neil Campbell in the duo Campbell Todd before going on to front his own venture Three Minute Hero. Stuart has also backed up various bands and is currently playing bass with Only Child.