Beginning simply as Robbie Boyd unofficially touring London open-mic nights and picking up musicians along the way, the London based ‘Funky Folk’ seven-piece The Robbie Boyd Band have gone from strength to strength of late. Starting out as many underground folk stars once did, on the streets of Portobello, the ensemble has made a name for itself on national radio, international tours and even gaining recognition through international songwriting competitions.
Their new EP Autumn’s Flown showcases some of their original busking favourites, as well as some newer additions, and doesn’t hold back on the twee harmonising and songwriting proficiency that The Robbie Boyd Band are becoming known for. The EP begins with the short rapping bongos and lingering trumpets of Angel, which, despite its catchy chorus and bouncy pop feel, has a tinge of personal connection to Boyd, which, with his distinguished vocals and the seamless layering of violins which creep in towards the end, gives this folk collective more of a family feel, in the sense that after listening to this and the EP as a whole, I had a strange want to meet him in person and chat with him over tea. Their bijou feel comes through on second track and debut single I Won’t Let You Go, as a full band harmony of the title breaks into bubbly ukulele melodies and keyboard. Having read many declarations of this band making songs which crowds can instantly sing along to, it is this track that convinced me, as the great collaborative effort is shown to its full with each instrument and voice giving its all in as feel-good a way as possible.
The band are as capable of creating the type of catchy, melodic folk-pop that we saw with early Noah and the Whale and bands such as We Were Evergreen, as they are of making full, more comprehensive pop songs that you may not expect from a group that are still mainly recognised as a busking band. Orion’s Belt is the kind of song that The Leisure Society – who are also adept at both short sweet folk songs and established folk anthems – are known for, being at once lyrically impressive, singing such memorable lyrics as ‘how tables turn back into wood, Abel would kill Cain if he could’, and having a varying, big sound through the number of gifted musicians involved.
The Robbie Boyd Band have managed to make a selection of songs that sound at once quite thoroughly produced, whilst also keeping the integrity that comes from the street-busking birth they had. With the lyrical, musical and vocal talents that are showcased on this short EP, Boyd and his band are a force that, with the help from their street following and international renown, could easily dominate any stage or street corner.