Review by David Hintz
Stonecraft is a folk duo who, although located in France, spent time in South Wales performing their original yet familiar Celtic based material. The acoustic guitars, citterns, and bouzoukis ring out with resonant assurance. The male lead vocals are like a light Martin Cockerham (Spirogyra), yet when the female harmonies in “Secret World” kick in, you have all the luscious qualities that you would find in Dulcimer or Magna Carta, or even Spirogyra. “North Sea Lights” even has a mystical/psychedelic arrangement as the acoustic guitars take on a drone chant over a simple bass line. There is some real magic within. This is akin to “The Wicker Man” soundtrack, which although has traditional sounding tunes, takes off in psychedelic directions and has become a classic of the psyche-folk scene. There are deep Scandanavian-like droning patterns here as well, as this is music is familiar, yet exotic and personal as well. This third Stonecraft album has carved a permanent place in my collection and may have to make room for their first two albums when next I shop.
Review by Paul Jerome Smith
This short (32 minute) acoustic album (apparently their third) from the duo of Andy Morgan (vocals guitars, bass, bouzouki and cittern) and Viil Hov Fjøse (vocals and guitar) is an utterly compelling proposition for andy Fireworks reader who enjoys gentle, slightly ethereal music o folk rock sensibilities, with more than a smidgeon of traditional Celtic folk, a dash of Blackmore’s Night: in fact you’ll find quite a variety of influences at work here.
Ten tracks: eight songs and Two instrumentals perfectly captured for me the wonderfully cool conditions foe the late evening after July’s long hot summer days. Where there are harmony vocals, they ate exquisite, with Viil’s voice predominating, except on ‘Simple Soul’ and album closer ‘From The Cold’ this latter revealing a delicate vocal interplay.
‘Behind The Door’ is a spectacularly consistent album, but after several plays favourites are coming to the fore: instrumental ‘North Sea Lights’ being a tour defoce as is ‘The Raven’ that segues into and precedes it. The Blackmore’s Night redolent ‘There’s My Love’ is a delight as is the very traditionally sounding ‘Breathe’: but there’s nothing here to sniff at.
This release by Stonecraft showcases the fruits of a delightful collaboration between the members of this duo, and for those of you who lie this sort of stuff: well, you can buy with confidence.
Classic Rock Society Magazine
Review by JRT
Welsh/Norwegian duo Stonecraft, now based in France, release this, their third album. The duo, Andy Morgan (guitars, bass, bouzouki, cittem) and Viil Hov Fjose (vocals and guitar), over the ten tracks plough their own unique musical furrow. It’s a blend of Welsh Celtic folk and Norwegian folk music that creates something new and exciting. With Viil’ s soft beautiful vocals soaring over Andy’s musical backdrops, this collection of eight songs and two instrumentals, is a thing of beauty. Viil’s vocals spring to mind the vocals of other female folksingers like Kathryn Roberts or Kate Rusby, but with her own sound and style, and Andy’s guitar, blend with the cittem and bouzouki to
create a unique sound. From the opener Deadbeat, via my favourite, the stunning North Sea Lights, this is the best of contemporary folk songwriting mixed with the most traditional of instruments, and when the duo sing in harmony it sends shivers down your spine. A superb collection.
Get Ready To Rock
Review by Pete Whalley
Behind The Door is the third album of acoustic, alternative, Celtic music from multi-instrumentalist singer / songwriter Andy Morgan, and singer / songwriter Viil Hov Fjose.
And while Andy started out as a rock guitarist who developed an affinity for traditional Welsh and Celtic music, Viil has a more classical background in the traditional music of Norway.
Having established their distinctive acoustic sound – created by vocal harmonies combined with Celtic instruments such as cittern and bouzouki – on the local circuit in South Wales, they developed it further on travels throughout France, Spain and Norway resulting in a sound that merges traditional European folk with rock in a manner not dissimilar at times to Steeleye Span.
The result is a hugely engaging 10 tracks – two instrumentals, eight songs, seven of which are original compositions and one traditional Welsh folksong. A difficult one to pigeon hole covering, as it does, a ridiculously broad spectrum of styles ranging not far short of pop to baroque, but at the same time all hanging together rather beautifully. For lovers of traditional folk who aren’t stuck in the dark ages, Stonecraft come highly recommended. ****
Review by Dan Holland
“Slightly ethereal, threadlike folk whispering engaging tales through gentle vocals and inspired scintillating strings – that’s the new album ‘Behind the Door’ from acoustic duo Stonecraft. Their music reflects influences from deep-set roots that combine the essence of misty Welsh mountainss with olden echoes from Norway built on the expansive songwriting and musicianship of Andy Morgan (vocals, 6/12 string guitar, bass, bouzouki, cittern) and Viil Hov Fjose (vocals, guitar).
There’s an elusive, otherworldly edge to their self-penned songs that echoes ancient Celtic inspirations and narratives yet at the same time their songs expound contemporary themes and messages. From the totally captivating opener ‘Deadbeat’ with its stark lyrics, through the haunting harmonies of ‘Secret World’ and the mysterious, faintly foreboding ‘The Raven’ to the bleak truth of ‘Simple Soul’ these songs craft readily understood narratives that connect on many levels.
As well as a highly memorable take on the Welsh folk song (Dacw ‘nghariad) ‘There’s My Love’ and the interweaving voices on ‘From The Cold’, there are two instrumentals to savour – ‘North Sea Lights’ with its crisp, clean strings and the pulsing, layered rhythmic intensity of ‘Fading Embers’.
‘Behind the Door’ is Stonecraft’s third album and it’s certainly worth a place in anyone’s acoustic collection”
Bright Young Folk
Review by Mark Dishman
Stonecraft is a duo comprising Andy Morgan and Viil Hov Fjose, singer-songwriters influenced by Celtic and Norwegian traditions. The pair met while playing in a country covers band, and while on Behind the Door – their third album – there’s little evidence of any lingering influence from that particular genre, it’s clear Morgan and Fjose have bonded musically throughout their time playing together.
Fjose’s acoustic guitar tends to provide the backbone of a song, with multi-instrumentalist Morgan adding pleasing texture with cittern or bouzouki. His solo on Deadbeat comes out of nowhere, turning a fairly stately opener into something more frantic and exciting. And he repeats the trick regularly, adding a lovely, lilting outro to Breathe, for example.
Morgan and Fjose’s voices are both soft and calming, which rather suits the sonorous quality of the songs. But when they sing together it’s much more interesting – in fact you wish they’d do it more: Fjose’s backing harmonies on the neatly-paced Secret World really add a note of interest. Similarly, Simple Soul is another album highlight – the pair singing intensely to a driving backing, which is broken up by the introduction of a jittery, unsettling tune.
The Station has a folk-rock vibe, Fjose urging “take me to the river like we used to do before” to a driving, twangy backdrop. She also takes the lead on the album’s only traditional song, There’s My Love – otherwise known as Dacw ’Nghariad – which is driven along at a smart pace by an intricately, strongly picked tune.
Unfortunately, this serves to highlight some of the duo’s less exciting original compositions. Lyrically, Behind the Door is often frustratingly bland, and too many of the songs blend into one another. The pair are undoubtedly talented, and it’s an enjoyable listen, but a more confident, bold approach might serve them better next time around.
Review by Acoustic FM
A third album has seen the light of day from UK band, or better duo, Stonecraft. The 10-track album contains two instrumentals and 8 songs of which one traditional Welsh folksong.
On this album Andy Morgan and Viil Hov Fjose used their love for traditional music to create this fine album.
Review by Acoustic Magazine
“Stonecraft are a duo comprising Welshman Andy Morgan and Norwegian Viil Fjose. On this, their debut album, they blend together folk and roots influences form their homelands with a fair degree of success. There’s a good mixture of styles and songs, with the haunting ‘One more shadow’ remaining with you for a while afterwards. A fine debut that shows much promise.”
Review by Leicester Bangs
Well this, potentially, is an unusual record. Stonecraft are the duo of Andy Morgan and Viil Fjose, and they play traditional and original folk songs, which they claim, are a combination of Celtic, bluegrass, British and Norwegian roots influences.
On paper, it’s surely going to be either an inspired cross-pollination of diverse music cultures, coming together to create something quite unique and special, or a complete mess of ideas and conflicting techniques. Surprisingly, it’s neither radically new or an exercise in musical disorder. Instead, the album is nothing more than an interesting British folk rock record, with a song or two sung in Norwegian. I’m not sure whether I’m disappointed or relieved, though I’ll plump for the latter, because The Call is always a listenable collection with its fair share of high points and strong songwriting. 7/10.