The Vespertine Kind: “Hang Me Oh Hang Me” – a mysterious intimacy and a melancholic grace

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The Vespertine Kind is a recent project by Buckinghamshire based musician Graham Iddon. The project began as an interest in creating an unusual fusion of ambience and folk music. Graham has been studiously learning new techniques to achieve that end, working heavily on vocal methods and harmonic guitar. He will be releasing a debut EP in 2018 compiled of a short body of original material and reworked covers. His brand new single, “Hang Me Oh Hang Me” – a cover of a traditional folk song – is the rarest of rare musical commodities. It’s something you can put on late at night or early in the morning. It’s just as accessible on a gentle spring morning or a lazy summer afternoon, as it is on a rainy or snowy evening.  What’s more, it packs a ton of power behind its low-key, unassuming demeanor. Possessing a mysterious intimacy and a melancholic grace. This is the sound of someone who strongly believes in what they’re doing. This is the sound of a person utterly inspired.

The song, “Hang Me Oh Hang Me” was apparently originally inspired by a hanging that took place at Fort Smith, Arkansas, around about 1870, and has been recorded in many versions, and with different titles too. The first being in 1937, and then a well-known version by Bing Crosby in 1959.

The most famous interpretation of the song of course being the one by Folk singer, Dave Van Ronk. Avoiding cheap comparisons, it would be fair to say that The Vespertine Kind’s version is probably the most wrenchingly poignant. His wistful voice and nuanced vocal delivery, perfectly suits the lyrical theme of this song, making Graham one of its most natural interpreters I’ve ever heard.

Without question, The Vespertine Kind wanted an organic sound on this recording. He consciously set out to ditch any florid orchestrations that usually characterize modern recordings. Here, the focus was on the playing, the singing, and most importantly, the song.

A guitar, a voice, and little else, sparse “Hang Me Oh Hang Me” may be, but it’s quite a rich and lush sparseness, which matches the simple complexity of the lyrics – pure poetry in the finest sense: “Hang me, oh, hang me, I’ll be dead and gone. I wouldn’t mind the hanging but the laying in the grave so long, poor boy.”

Stark as it is, the song is melodic and irresistibly hypnotic. Regardless of the desolate and saddening harmonic avenues it stumbles through, Graham’s deep, meditative voice, generates a powerful empathy within the listener.

The Vespertine Kind here interprets the universe of human frailty, from another point of view – that of strength and steadfastness. And he does it brilliantly. The song guts you by the sheer allure of its saddening beauty. Rarely has music made in such solitude stimulated such a feeling of sodality. There are some records, I simply can’t get enough of and this is one of them.

Throughout, The Vespertine Kind evokes a deeply personal, twilit world. By avoiding overwhelming sonic embellishments, Graham Iddon is able to invite the listener in…closer than ever before. It will take a completely cynical mind to dismiss his unassuming talent.

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