Alt-folk duo Lunatraktors are a collaboration between choreographer and percussionist Carli Jefferson and non-binary vocalist and composer Clair Le Couteur. Lunatraktors re-imagine folk, mixing tonal percussion, tap-dance and harmonic singing with whistles, drones and analogue synth. Labelling what they do as ‘Broken Folk’, and set on working against the often misogynistic undercurrents of traditional folk music, they are now set to release their second album The Missing Star. Following acclaim from the likes of Mojo Magazine for 2019’s This Is Broken Folk, the latest release features thirteen tracks, poignantly drawing on eight hundred years of British and Irish traditional song.
Opener, ‘Rigs Of The Times’, reworks a traditional song with polemical lyrics about Brexit and Covid 19, as does ‘The Unquiet Grave’ – reflecting on the tragic consequences of government austerity on one woman’s life. Title track, ‘The Missing Star’ is a theatrical and satirical protest song on the subject of toxic nationalism.
However, the politics are personal as well as political. Woven throughout the album are quieter ballads, and unsettling instrumental pieces. The haunting ‘My Witch’, ‘The Keening’, and ‘The Blacksmith’ take poetry and song from the traditional, effectively rendering them through the power of voice alone. This is where you see Lunatraktors’ power in storytelling, with Clair’s voice taking on the different characters, allowing each to tell their unique story. A cover of ‘Lover, Lover, Lover’ (Leonard Cohen) featuring close harmonies and percussion, provides another direction on the album, as does the closing track ‘Ecclesiastes 1:1-18’, a prophetic reflection on life’s travails.
The Missing Star is an intriguing and innovative album. In its clever reworking of old and new, what endures still resonates – love, betrayal, loss, corruption. Stories of our common humanity beyond borders and time are told with a beautifully stirring musicality and striking emotion.
Watch the poignant new video for ‘Rigs Of The Times’ – which has featured on the new Electric Muse boxset – here:
The Missing Star is out on Monday, 21st June – fittingly for an album oozing such sparkling majesty, the Summer Solstice. Pre-order and find out more here.
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Photo Credit: Peter Campbell-Saunders