I was excited to find out that this Milton Keynes based duo were opening for a friend of mine at the wonderful Milton Keynes Stables earlier this year, a real bonus as I’ve been hearing a lot about their music, described on their website as a “British take on acoustic Americana” . And they didn’t disappoint, they performed an impressive set showcasing their honest writing, great vocals and beautiful playing incorporating guitar and banjo which included several songs from their upcoming album “Bonfire and Pine”. Undertones of folk and blues as well as country permeated their music, they had a confident stage presence and great rapport with each other (handy considering they are a couple personally as well as professionally!) and the interesting chat in between was a great insight into their lives, both current and past. Their stories make inspiring reading…
Josh and Carly began their musical careers separately in punk bands (yep!) before their first chance meeting at a gig in London in 2010. Josh discovered his love of music with the help of his father and step-mother who played in pubs and blues clubs, his first obsession was with Elvis and Rock’n’Roll before discovering the politically charged world of punk and ska in his teens. Forming a band with friends, they gigged all over Europe for ten years before Josh became drawn to the folk scene, attracted in particular by solo artists pouring out their hearts on stage. He was inspired to write about some of the tough subjects he had experienced, including a major relationship breakup and the passing of a close friend, and released an EP of his own, “Tired” which documented those events. It was while playing these solo shows in that he first met Carly, and when their paths crossed again a few years later they quickly formed a bond and within months they were living together and collaborating musically.
With both Carly’s paternal grandmother and mother being talented singers (not professionally) she was encouraged to play music at home from an early age. She wrote her first song aged seven and initially went down the classical route, learning piano and flute and singing in the school choir. But all that changed when her father bought her a guitar when she was twelve! She began playing in bands at school, and while living in Spain (her father’s job meant she lived a very nomadic lifestyle in her formative years) played her first gig on a beach! Leaving home at sixteen she returned to the UK and self-fund herself through music college by working three jobs, eventually moving to London aged eighteen to pursue her musical dream. Sadly things didn’t work out, she had a breakdown and addiction took hold of her but she still managed to tour the UK and Europe with a punk band. Thankfully she turned things around, getting sober by the time she was twenty three. She stopped playing music and instead went into the music industry, discovering Indian classical music and learning the tabla (a pair of small drums fundamental to the genre) and subsequently a variety folk instruments. This ending up with her finding the banjo and around the same time crossing paths with Josh on the music circuit, who finally (after 29 moves in 29 years!) gave her the stability her life had been lacking. They have both now given up their day jobs, moved to the country and live in a caravan to pursue a freer and more fulfilling way of life.
Writing and performing together under the name “Hope In High Water” I’d say the duo’s music is as unique are the pair’s stories! They both bring a variety of musical influences to the table and their writing is an honest take on their life experiences and journeys. Their debut EP “When Sorrow Calls” was released in 2016 followed by their first album “Never Settle” the following year which explored the darker side of their lives and earned them radio play across the UK and US . They went back into the studio earlier this year and 8th November sees the release of their sophomore album “Bonfire and Pine” , and while based in the Americana/folk style of their previous releases the duo’s soul and blues influences are more prevalent this time round. The album is described on their website as “a story of healing… the light at the end of the tunnel” A great example of this is the album’s recently released lead single “It’s Over Now” in which Carly discusses how childhood trauma continues to effect day to day existence long into adulthood , while taking hope from her own experiences of healing.
They have a string of shows lined up during November, including on release day at The Craufurd Arms in Milton Keynes, all details, album pre-release packages and more information about the duo can be found at hopeinhighwater.com
Article written by Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)