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August Gilde ~ Cabin dwellerMusicianSingerSongwriter

Unexpectedly, August Gilde’s favourite season is spring. It’s a particularly beautiful time in the Yorkshire Dales, where he lives and writes songs in a log cabin at the top of a hill. But what comes to mind when listening to his new album, Animals, is autumn – oak and hazel leaves changing colour and the feeling of the year winding down.  It’s there in his voice, warm and contemplative, and in the deeply introspective music itself. So, despite loving “the energy, light and life of spring”, Gilde has made a record that feels like a gilded sunset on a November afternoon.

He was born in North Yorkshire and raised on the Bolton Priory estate, where his estate-worker dad was given a tied cottage as an employment benefit. Growing up in one of the most beautiful places in the country shaped his worldview: he loves wildlife, plants and the tranquillity of the countryside. But there’s an equally fierce intolerance of injustice, and when Gilde gave up his career hand-crafting country furniture to make music fulltime, he poured everything into his lyrics: hopes, fears, ambivalence and a shout-out to the old mates he grew up with. It follows up his 2021 debut album, A Different Kind, but also goes its own way in terms of songwriting.

Thus, while Animal’s ten songs feel tranquil at first listen, there’s an undercurrent of unease. Even the album title speaks to Gilde’s disquiet about the mess the world is in. “The name encompasses different elements of each song,” he says. To understand what makes Gilde tick, start with the title track, which is the album’s lead single (released September 15, 2023). “Everyone’s fighting but no one’s wrong/ everyone’s talking loud…All we’re searching for is our freedom,” it begins. Gilde’s voice and guitar are accented by Steve Barlow’s exquisite pedal-steel playing as he wryly observes the “animalistic” behaviour that now passes for normal, especially since Covid. He explains: “We see ourselves as gods who control everything, but we’re animals, and these traits come out in us when bad things happen.” The song is as beautiful a piece of alt-folk as anything that’s come out in the last decade. On top of that, there’s a stunning abstract video created by Ukrainian  sand artist Kseniya Simonova.

Produced by Tali Trow and partly recorded in Luke Oldfield’s analogue West London studio, Animals is a quiet, impassioned statement in a world full of noise. You won’t hear anything else like it.

Written by Caroline Sullivan