When I sat down to talk to Davey Hal about his new EP, the excitement in his eyes told me that this was a project beyond the work he had shared before. Only some of that was down to the contact he’d had with the Du Maurier estate. The rest is because Helford Honeymoon is his most ambitious work to date, casting watercolour excellence over the latest of his inspirations, the work of Daphne du Maurier.
From the opening title track, the influences are clear, with a haunting call and response led by Hal. Think Fleet Foxes on the estuary, his voice filling that void joined by Ali James and Darren Jones on backing vocals. As far as instrumentation goes, the EP is a bolder choice than the piano and guitar-backed efforts that precede it. As Davey told me himself, this is more of a soundscape. It could easily be placed as the score to the roaming and craggy cliffs in Cornwall, wind-beaten faces glaring at some distant point they are aiming for.
Pleasant Streams, Davey’s little hideaway during his times in Cornwall hits second. As an instrumental, it could only add to the very real sense that this music is due to urgently take you away. Paired with the opening horn of Mevagissey, there’s a naval quality. It’s the last post followed by a cool lounge jazz piano that could have been recorded at 3am in a smoky pub.
If Lanteglos could talk then it could summon up the town from which the song took its name. Filled with piano and cello, it drifts, storytelling in a way befitting the writer of whom Hal writes and talks about so fondly. Danvers’ Crimson Skyline feels more like a traditional Davey Hal song with a Villagers influence thrown in too. Images of swimming and burning suggest direct passages from du Maurier’s work, a sly nod from the Essex musician. Both the track and the EP end with The Bends-type journey off a cliff and into another realm, the acoustic battered beneath drums and reverent guitar falling over in waves.
What Davey Hal has done with Helford Honeymoon is create something that is uniquely his own while paying homage to a source. Such influence is a rare thing. There are only so many times when, as an adult, you find a bond so tight. The journey that Hal takes us on with this EP is not only a hopeful tease of what is to come but also a reminder that inspiration can come in so many forms.
Helford Honeymoon is available now on iTunes, Amazon Music and Spotify.