Friendship has forged the songs on Navaro’s astonishingly beautiful new album, Home Is Where The Heartland Is. The band, who started playing together in 2007, have had previous success with their acclaimed debut album Under Diamond Skies, which was released in 2008.
The Hertfordshire three-piece all bring something unique to the party with support from Gareth Turner from the folk rock band Little Johnny England, who appeared on Under Diamond Skies and plays melodeon on the album. His band-mate Guy Fletcher, along with Miles Gilderdale (Acoustic Alchemy) and James McNair also lend their considerable talents to the collection.
Lead songwriter Steve Austin is the lynchpin that holds all the elements together, having written 14 of the staggering 21 tracks on the album. Stand out tracks include This Time Will Pass and the nostalgic ballad Blow in which he sings lead vocals in a rich traditional country-folk vein. Beth Navaro brings her considerable grace and poise to his other works including the delicate and lovely Familiar, the Fleetwood Mac-inspired Pillars and the soaring love song Open and Walking With Ghosts.
An electrician by day, Watford singer-songwriter Pete White brings his distinctive vocal prowess to self-penned numbers including the hopeful Wishing on Another Lucky Star and upbeat, catchy tracks Reluctant Feet and Slow Dance.
“Working as an electrician you get a lot of time to yourself and I come up with a lot of ideas and lyrics while I‘m working,“ says Pete.
A former Bushey Meads pupil, Pete left school at 16. He started out like so many local talents playing The Horns open mic night.
“I remember waiting to play and feeling sick. I‘d go green and pale before I‘d go on and I remember my dad saying: ‘are you sure you‘re built for this?‘ But I really wanted to and so I‘d push myself through it every time. I do get nervous even now but I hide it better and it gives you an edge.“
Pete had been on the live circuit for more than ten years when he met Steve. At the same time Beth was looking for backing musicians. After the success of their first album the band played numerous live dates including festivals and support slots with Fairport Convention and Colin Blunstone, among others.
Pete says the band took a breather in between albums but having got into the practice of forming a circle and working on new music together in rehearsals, they had a lot of fresh material to work with.
“We were all doing our own bits and pieces for a while so we took a short break to collect our thoughts. Then we got together again with no idea for anything but started working on the songs that didn‘t make the last album. After rehearsing for Under Diamond Skies, we didn‘t want to go through the process of breaking everything down again so we recorded about ten songs live.
“A lot of new songs were also written during this recording process, some members of the band had never heard them before but all of the songs are about real experiences.“
The band will be launching the new album this Thursday ahead of a mini-tour and apparently the venues will determine which tracks they play from intimate gigs at venues such as The Cock Inn at Sarratt and The Maltings in St Albans through to bigger scale nights at The Horns in Watford.
So which is Pete‘s favourite track and which is he most looking forward to performing?
“Walking With Ghosts is so haunting and it‘s all about the fragility of life. Sometimes when you‘re recording, the ones you really like are the upbeat things but others grow on you. Every day is different – it‘s like with your appetite; you don‘t want to eat the same thing every day.“
The album launch is this Thursday at The Horn, Victoria Street, St Albans at 8pm. Details: 01727 853 143, www.navaromusic.com