Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker: Relishing the Art of Creating an Album

Dec 29, 2016

UK folk musicians Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker wrapped up their first-ever US concert tour in September.  For the duo, the timing was tricky, as they played songs from their new album, which wasn't released until weeks after they were back across the Atlantic.

The album, called "Overnight," is one of a growing number these days with a vinyl release - in addition to its CD and digital editions.  While audiophiles applaud the trend, Clarke and Walker say their attraction to vinyl is less about sound quality and more about the nature of a physical album.

"I think it has as much to do with the artwork, and the ceremony of listening," Clarke says, "and the idea of structuring an album.  With vinyl, you have to turn it over.  And so to create a classic album, it has to have a first half and a second half, and you have to think very carefully about how those work."

And so 'shuffle mode,' they say, is an enemy.  "I think it's no coincidence that - at the moment - when you have all the digital streams and there's no artwork, there's nothing physical," Clarke says, "and they're random tracks that can end up in a playlist - that there's been a kind of counter-culture of people that still want a proper, artistic project."

Walker agrees.  "I've got a second-hand copy of [The Who's] 'Quadrophenia' at home," he says, "and it's amazing.  It's a proper hard-back book, gatefold kind of process.  And you sit and read through it, and it's like having an art book sitting on the coffee table, but one that happens to contain a record."

Does "Overnight" hit that target? The duo defers. "You're trying to make a classic album," Clarke says. "Whether or not you are successful in that endeavor is not for you to decide, but that's what you should be striving for."

Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker's "Overnight" was released on October 14th. They were in Milwaukee in September for a concert at Colectivo's Back Room.

*Originally aired October 2016