Todd Mayhew and Sivan Agam have been charming audiences as folk duo The April Maze since they formed 7 years ago in Melbourne, Australia. The magnetic pair, who were married in 2011, captured attention worldwide upon the release of their second album Two in 2012. The intimate collection of stripped-back covers was included in Spotify’s most popular new releases after receiving more than 70,000 plays in its first week. Mayhew and Agam continue to demonstrate their abundant artistic chemistry on their third studio album Sleeping Storm.
On the LP’s title track Agam’s resonant voice launches the album on its heartfelt, vivid narrative. Her reverberating, honeyed tone is buoyed, tangled and engulfed by a rich cello and electric guitar. Mayhew then joins his wife on the lamenting I’ve Seen The Rain, where perfectly balanced harmonies and vivid poetry pay tribute to a friend who died suddenly at sea.
From here Sleeping Storm takes a skyward turn. Scout Hall blissfully narrates the duo’s own story with sunny banjo and sweet harmonies as the pair serenades each other with dreamy memories. The sparse instrumentation of Fantasy takes advantage of Agam’s wonderful cello playing, which becomes both the melodic and rhythmic accompaniment to this starry-eyed, fantastical folksong. While Homeland is a redolent bush ballad, whose gentle stomp recalls timeless the Australian folk of Mayhew’s childhood, while images of a snow-kissed landscape recollect Agam’s English home.
The Bishop Who Ate His Boots recites the astonishing true story of Mayhew’s great-grandfather Isaac O. Stringer, who survived becoming lost in the Yukon by eating his sealskin boots. The rollicking track evokes vivid images of a solitude man marching across the unforgiving region, as Mayhew creates suspense with an intense vocal ebb and flow. The April Maze continue this trend of anthemic folk-rock in the tramping optimism of Don’t Let The Bastards Bring You Down, and the frantic environmental and political plea of Leave it in the Ground.
The hushed, vintage-vibes of Sparks closes the album, whose fiercely engaging narratives and endearing natural chemistry are highlighted by sparse arrangements, haunting harmonies and structural simplicity throughout.