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Swirling, stirring string flurries, delicate vocals and a slow build; what else could you ask for a in a modern folk band? Okay, maybe a touch of brass now and then, but that’s just being greedy. David Henshaw (vocals), Joseph Lawrenson (piano), Dan Fielding (electric guitar), Dominic Butler (violin) and Joe Montague (drums) make up Dancing Years. They have been around in one form or another for around five or six years now, but 2014 is looking like a breakthrough year for them. The Leeds five-piece have some impressive tours under their belt supporting the likes of Benjamin Francis Leftwich, Dry The River, Jamie N Commons and George Ezra with a jaunt around Australia with Boy and Bear scheduled for March. The lads have also hit up stages at Deer Shed, Great Escape, Dot to Dot and Reading/Leeds, so they’ve got a lot of momentum behind them.
Full of talented instrumentalists, debut single ‘Here’s To My Old Friends’ was a deeply graceful introduction. The cautious swaying of guitar and piano is a perfect accompaniment to the smooth vocal. The percussion builds into a more upbeat violin line leading Henshaw to rise to the occasion. And that’s exactly what this track is – an occasion. From a tentative beginning into the rousing middle section, the songs dies down and fades away. For a first offering it takes you on a truly astonishing journey.
After setting the bar pretty high, the band released their second single, ‘Places We’ve Roamed’, earlier this year. Another soft and introspective track, it is held together with vocals and drums, while the rest of the band almost seems to have free reign, adding extra layers and textures to create a sound which has been described as Damien Rice meets Elbow meets Sigur Ros. High praise indeed for a band that have shown great ability, less so variety. But this is only the start and B-sides ‘Leaving The House’ and ‘Borderlines’, as well as material penned under previous name Joseph & David, show there’s a lot more to come once they’ve found their feet. And I’m not on my own thinking this. Dancing Years have recently picked-up support from the likes of BBC’s Jen Long, Huw Stephens, Steve Lamacq and Mary Anne Hobbs as well as Amazing Radio. Ears peeled people, you need to know Dancing Years.