The Wilderness Yet – 27th April 2023

Confession time. I hadn’t come across The Wilderness Yet yet so decided to sit down quietly in the garden and listen to their latest recording, What Hold The World Together, a collection of twelve tracks combining both a love of the natural world as well as exploring wider themes of what it is to be human. I really enjoyed the album, it is well recorded, balanced and plays to the strengths of the three band members. All the songs
are different yet work together an entity. By the time they had signed off with the final track, the short acapella Emigrantvisa, I was sold and certainly looking forward to seeing them live.

Roll on a couple of days and here we are in dear old Baston for our monthly shot of live acoustic music. On arriving I notice one of those illuminated signs on the back white wall proclaiming The Wilderness Yet. Woody gives us two excellent warm-up openers, and off we go, The Wilderness Now!

The Wilderness Yet are singer Rosie Hodgson, fiddler Rowan Piggott and guitarist-flautist Philippe Barnes. Their distinct name comes from Inversaid by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a lovely rhythmic poem evoking the wonders of nature and untouched landscapes. The final verse of the poems reads:

What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wilderness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wilderness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

What appeals to me almost immediately about the band is their blend and interaction. Rosie’s clear-as-a-bell voice is complemented by Rowan’s soft and lyrical fiddle playing and Philippe’s sensitive guitar. No one takes the lead, all fit together superbly. The sum is greater than the constituent parts.

Opening songs from their last two albums opened each half of the evening – The Beauties of Autumn the first and Wild Northeaster the second. Others included Charlie Fox, A Bruton Farmer, Woman of the Woods and the clap-along The Thrushes’ Anvil as well as many more.The two halves of the evening were perfectly balanced (not always the case at Baston) and included songs from their three available albums, all of which are highly recommended. At one stage Rosie briefly left the stage to allow Rowan and Philippe to show off their considerable instrumental skills. It must be noted that Phillippe is also a talented flautist as well as guitarist.

My personal favourites from the evening are the songs that the three perform acapella, in particular Old Brock and The Banks of the Bann, both pin-drop gorgeous. Marvellous!

The trio are accomplished, confident and, above all, subtle. Whilst it is rainy outside, they are comforting and soothing. I could well imagine sitting in a woodland glade soaking up their sounds as the sun goes down. Indeed, I could soon literally do that – their next six gigs are all at folk festivals (Upton, Chippenham, Gower, Otley, Hatfield and Dolgellau).

The Wilderness Yet are further proof that, although there are many features of this country that are currently unsettling and questionable, there is still fine music to be heard, played by young musicians with a message, heart and considerable musical soul.

Throughout the evening part of the audience, we bods who sit on the right-hand side of the hall as seen from the stage, were treated to the sight of a young ‘un (no, not that sort) who occasionally popped out of the changing room in the arms of a minder. This turns out to be the offspring of Rosie and Rowan and, given its impeccable breeding and fine voice, will in a few years turn The Wilderness Yet from a trio to a quartet. You read it here first!