Released on the 18th of August, Vena Portae is the debut release from Anglo-Swede trio Vena Portae; being established artists in their own right Emily Barker of Emily Barker & the Red Clay Halo, songwriter and performer Don Coyote, and Swedish producer Ruben Engzell have put together a record which in their words is “a treasure trove of songs, inspired by hearbreak, passion, and intrigue”. That being said, the album stays true to its word as the eleven track album is a delightful fusion of traditional country folk and Americana.
Vena Portae starts with the first single off the record, Summer Kills; the combination of Barker’s husky vocals accompanied by a very pleasing horns bridge section is a slight throwback to the late 60s and would not be out of place in beatnik bars of the era. It acts as a fitting introduction to a down to earth experience that Vena Portae successfully embed throughout the record. To capture this there’s a slight reshuffle of varying musical arrangements that form a wonderful backdrop to the classic folksy tale that each song tells. Most likely the consequence of the album being recorded using a temporary studio in a snowed-in Swedish cabin over the space of a month, Vena Portae pull off very atmospheric folky music even down to the frosty undertones in the closing track All Will Be Well which concludes the splendid selection of songs.
As a trio, Vena Portae represents the coming together of mix matched yet complimentary fields which has served well for the album. Dom Coyote’s love for stories, music and theatre, tied in with Emily Barker’s effortlessly wintry vocals and multi-instrumentalist Ruben Engzell’s skilful arrangements offers up a truly bohemian record that draws heavily on different aspects of traditional folk and bluegrass without the intensity that is at times ascribed to the genres.