[sic] Magazine

The Last Battle – Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea

With apparent nods to CS Lewis and PJ Harvey in band and album name respectively, what therefore to expect from this Edinburgh-based sextet? Why, romantic indie-folk by way of Belle & Sebastian and cult acoustic mumbler Ballboy , of course. But, Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea isn’t just another twee outing from up North, for The Last Battle are rather adept at melody, breathing life through the dusty annals of traditional folk and iconic Scots indie.

Lacing their brand with the near spoken-word of Scott Longmuir , as well as with lush vocal duets and cello, The Last Battle undoubtedly have variety and depth aplenty. Throughout, there is a slow-paced dignity to proceedings, which is clear from the onset thanks to “Any Ocean” in which the strings and lengthy instrumental passages evoke a sense of serene post-rock amongst its acoustic DNA.

The livelier strains of Ella Duncan ‘s melodica announce “Cutlass”, whereas the toe-tapping shanty “Nature’s Glorious Rage” provides the wise maxim to “grow majestic with age” amidst its melancholic mandolin. Longmuir is at his Scottish best for the soothing, wistful cadences of “Oh Beat Beloved”, as is the bass player Paul Barrett for his spoken turn on “Photographic Memory”, which, backed by the pretty vocals of Arwen Duncan , is particular impressive.

Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea closes strongly with the gently building “Whisky!!”, as well as with the sing-along “Lifejackets”, though it is “Ruins” that lingers longest in the memory. Carrying an alt-country flavour and reprising the upbeat tempo of “Nature’s Glorious Rage”, it’s the album’s most rounded moment. Filled out with an enviable swelling and sweetened by twinkling glockenspiel, it’s undeniably heart-warming stuff, despite the subject matter that implores us to “leave behind the relics of ourselves / forget all the sadness in those ruins”.

The Last Battle have put their heart and soul into this release and they wear it literally on their sleeve with their telling choice of album title, and, with it, they win this battle hands down. Here’s wishing it truly is their last therefore, as they deserve the fruits of victory.

Advised downloads : “Nature’s Glorious Rage” and “Ruins”.

~Heart Of The Land, Soul Of The Sea is out on the 4th October 2010 on 17 Seconds Records .~