Hope in High Water
Photo: Lisa Chapman (c). 2019
Hope In High Water are a duo from Milton Keynes, UK whose distinctly British take on acoustic Americana has captivated audiences across the UK since early 2014. The pair incorporate folk, blues and country into their compositions, delivering what Rock’n’Reel Magazine describe as ‘exuberant songs performed with passion and intensity’.
An unlikely pair to be pushing the frontiers of the Americana/folk scene, both Josh and Carly started out in the punk scene, churning out high-energy performances and angry, politically charged music night after night. This sometimes comes as a shock to those who have come to know the pair for their intense and authentic brand of folk. However, it is from these roots that Hope In High Water developed a strong belief in the importance of honest and sincere song writing and a taste for the darker elements of the American folk tradition. By combining that approach with an intense love of various traditional forms of music from blues to country, folk to soul, the pair has found an original way of interpreting these traditional sounds.
Hope In High Water’s sound is strongly influenced by the wanderlust and sense of movement that carries through their lives. Both spent much of their childhoods travelling, Carly with her dad’s work that pulled her from place to place and country to country and Josh with his Blues musician parents who showed him the joys of a bustling bar on a Saturday night. These experiences left a longing for the road in the pair that lead both to independently start bands and tour the UK and Europe throughout their early twenties.
It is through the travelling lifestyle that the two were to meet in a London venue in 2010. Crossing paths again several years later, the pair quickly formed a bond and within months were both living together and beginning to collaborate musically. With the demise of both of their respective bands, Josh and Carly both quickly began to again feel that familiar pull of the road and decided to take the dark, roots inspired brand of folk they had been honing at home out into the world.
The music itself draws heavily on the lonesome, soulful influence of America’s musical traditions, reminiscent at times of the field songs of the South or the blues of the Delta and combining this with modern folk/Americana/country influences such as Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope and Andrew Combs. Although heavily influenced by these traditions, Hope In High Water are acutely aware of their own roots, living near the urban town of Milton Keynes in middle England, a million miles from Route 66 or the romanticism of the American landscape. Instead they create something firmly grounded in their own experiences of the world and hopefully relevant to modern folk fans.
Since releasing their first EP ‘When Sorrow Calls’ in 2016, Hope In High Water have picked up features from R2 Magazine and Americana UK, as well as receiving radio play across the UK and US from a variety of local and national stations including BBC Radio 1. They have also found themselves sharing the stage with many of the most prominent artists in the scene such as Justin Townes Earle, Nikki Lane, Lilly Hiatt, Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show), Cale Tyson, Beans on Toast, Aoife O'Donovan, The Hackensaw Boys, The Stray Birds, Otis Gibbs and Cahalen Morrison & Eli West.
Following the success of their debut album Hope In High Water went into the studio in April 2019 to record their second album ‘Bonfire & Pine’. This offering is a story of healing, a development from their 2017 debut ‘Never Settle’ which explored the death of loved ones, trauma and the breakdown of relationships, ‘Bonfire & Pine’ is the light at the end of the tunnel. It tells of the joy and freedom found in the time between the two albums.
Making the decision to leave their full time jobs, moving to the country to live in a caravan and pursuing a freer and more fulfilling way of life, ‘Bonfire & Pine’ expresses the dream of finding a life of substance. It describes the healing discovered in the great outdoors, in the pursuit of a more connected life and through truly experiencing freedom with all the ups and downs that that brings. Like any progression this also encompasses darkness, explorations of childhood trauma and the pain of grieving but in this offering Hope In High Water are able to take the lessons from these experiences and use them to propel themselves forward.
Overall ‘Bonfire & Pine’ is an album of progression, healing and truth. No longer being content to sit in sorrow but instead facing the darkest shadows of who we are and what it means to be human and hopefully emerging on the other side lighter, more grounded and loving people.