Head here to submit your own review of this album.

Perhaps an odd reflection, given that scorching weather is now drenching me hazy, but some weeks ago a stifling humidity abounded, thunderstorms gathered and grey clouds hung heavy in the sky in permanence low enough to blanket the Saudi-owned Shard in a mist you could mistake for forgiveness. In the valley of an indifferent beast: a London city centre temporarily adrift, held on pause, the ritualistic process of vomiting up waves of turned earth, endless building sites.

A morning dredge given accompaniment not from the ever-permeating musique concrete of a fast-tracked urban regeneration made for the benefit of some co-opted, half-imagined yuppy class flush with self-employed new money, but rather with the personal sadness, pastoral longing and spiritual reconciliation of Red River Dialect's third album.

A respite from urban sprawl and a reminder if ever I needed one that pinions of concrete and glass, the consumer trappings of ego only go so far in speaking to a holistic, resolved human experience. Somewhere in the city, something is lacking; but what is most lacking is the ability to articulate that loss.

Tender Gold And Gentle Blue is a transportative album both in terms of spatial and emotional evocation. I am at once lifted from the confines of this regrettable, expensive, over-packed Routemaster, the drudgery of routine, and spiritually returned to the fantastical wilderness of Kernow: its temper and fury, myths and tales. The biting coastal wind, the rich vernacular, folk tales, smuggled riches, secrets long lost but longing for discovery; a land where ghosts arc the moors and an ancient colonial oppression manifests today in a cyclical tourism industry and the stylised performance of a regional identity.

And whilst I regret that desire for an enriched homogeneity, the ease of consumption that says cites text A as representative of culture B; I won't shirk it either, where appropriate. There has long been a richness of musical expression hidden in Cornwall's borders that not often enough traverses the Tamar, the inverse expression of how few bands make it down to the South West. Perhaps there's a correlation to be found; a faux-Madagascar of innovation taking root on isles neglected by mainstream industry. I digress, but Red River Dialect finds me sonically returned til I can feel that salt spray on my cheek and hear a nuanced history gathering around me.

Similarly and of equal expression, this is as well an album of immense grief, personal reflection and sadness, at times leaving me wrought with the voyeur's guilt of peering too close, but these songs breathe with an emotional weight you can feel being released both by and in the music itself. Like the best narrative or poetic folk music, the emotional resonance of the lyric never overbears on what are stunningly arranged pieces of music that refuse to compromise or fall into easy categorisation: these are songs that both uplift and crush in equal measure. And while the album is undoubtedly a reflective one, it belies a wisened experience in addressing both the reasons for and journey towards overcoming.

Red River Dialect is the project of Cornish songwriter David Morris, who over the course of the last decade's home recordings and self-releases has accrued a quite wonderful band around him. Borne of Falmouth town by way of Brighton, the group now (mostly) live in London and have found a receptive local community of artists and musicians here; they gig regularly across the town and have recently been on tour in support of this fine record.

Last album awellupontheway skirted the vestiges of psychedelic folk, drawing worthy comparisons with The Waterboys and Nick Cave's scuzzier moments: electricity pulsing through the meditated codas and elongated fuzz. Tender Gold and Gentle Blue takes a fittingly more subdued and introspective approach but one that is no less engaging or affecting. Acoustic instruments are the core as Morris' delicately rendered guitar finds camaraderie amongst the violins, cello, harp, piano, tape loops and banjo of his immensely talented band.

Tender Gold And Gentle Blue opens with a plaintive guitar stroke and before long it's found company by degrees in raindrop piano and a cello that arrives like a gathered storm; a full band joins with a lulled, warming harmony in the song's chorus. It's a stormy beginning but one that demonstrates Red River Dialect's immense skill with painting in moods and affording instrumentation the room to colour around a song's edges. Piano trills remind me of Nick Drake's Bryter Layter and complement the songs to no less great effect. As the record moves, songs reveal themselves as nuanced, complex expressions for irresolvable feelings - there's a great harmony throughout this record between lyric and instrumentation.

There are moments I most look forward to: the sombre, sweeping chamber-reverence of 'Fallen Tree' tugs particularly at me, the dreamy, crushed confessionals of Dozmary which emerge like ghosts in a sepia hallucination and the transition from that song's plumbed depths to the defiant, affirming 'Khesed'. So much of this album's semiotics and poetry confronts that which is most difficult to face and the most successful moments here explore both the struggle and acceptance of grief. There's a subtle transition in the lyrics across the record's first side and it's noteworthy that side A ends with the embraced knowledge, delivered almost a-capella, that 'you are not here anymore'. Instrumental pieces such as 'Child Song' and 'Sceillic' bookend important movements in the record and allow a vital breathing space between emotionally wrought pieces that both give and demand so much.

Side B is arguably constructed around the nine-minute psychedelic centrepiece of 'Ring Of Kerry', which marks a particularly desolate expression but one that exists in a consoled reverence rather than wallowed mourning. Like Will Oldham solemnising with Sturgill Simpson, the song moves by degrees until collapsing, deconstructed, into an extended coda of reverse tape loop and Tibetan singing bowl. A vocal that comes drenched in delay and reverb envelops me like clouds quickly robbing a sky of all light; a thunderstorm recorded by happenstance with the live floor microphone gives the ideal fallacy to the quiet meditation and carefully constructed ethereal drone. The closing tracks illustrate again the sonic power of drawing between disparities of light. Although this is at times sombre music, it never burdens: the performances and melodies throughout come suffused with light and space.

This is a highly complex album and one that demands some degree of focus in the listener; it reminds me in tone of Carla Bozulich's Evangelista, a similarly pained album but one that equally explores the expression of release and the journey towards attainment of resolution. This is an articulation of something so vital to the human experience, so irresolvable and pained, which whilst Morris' references and allegories may be intensely personal, there's universality to the themes and expressions throughout this album that draws you and transports.

This is a record entwined and besotted with people, with moments caught or lost, remembered and out of reach. It's a record that speaks personally, unafraid to show confusion and grief and wonder what of it. Throughout, I find it suggested that maybe only through connecting with other people do we really achieve our humanity. A thought that comes back to me on grey, troubled days as I ride the Routemaster with all the other worker ants.

It's a rare gift for a friend who makes you smile warmly during life's most confounding, desolate moments, but that's exactly what this record achieves - and for that alone, I'm profoundly grateful that these songs exist. Crucially, Tender Gold And Gentle Blue carries a wisdom that suggests some things simply cannot ever be resolved and yet we must face them.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.