Review: Duotone brings depth and richness to the Folk House

4-stars15th November 2015


Earlier this year, The Fix was introduced to Duotone, a.k.a. Barney Morse-Brown, an experimental, classically-trained, contemporary folk musician hailing from Oxford. In the belly of the Grain Barge, on a cold January evening we received a taste of what would soon be his third album, titled Let’s Get Low.

Eleven months on, Duotone returned to Bristol last night with new album in tow, playing a mix of tracks, both old and new, to an eager crowd in the intimate Bristol Folk House cafe.

Launching into his set with the first track of the album, Little White Caravan, we were immediately presented with the musician’s skill in utilising looping pedals and drum machine. Cleverly harmonising with himself gives this one-man band a level of depth and richness not often reached by solo artists.


As the romance and sadness of Barney’s songs filled the cafe, we were privy to what drives this man of few words; his love of composition shines through with nearly every track. Layer after layer of vocals, guitars, cello and drums, Barney’s mastery of these instruments and looping technology allows for beautifully melancholic sounds with lyrics that hint to a hope and an appreciation for the good bits of life.

While the audience was clearly engaged throughout the set, the most notable moment of the evening came with the last song of the performance, Our Lands, as the crowd sang in unison along with the chorus: “this was once our town /these were once our lands.”

Eluding to the corporate takeover we see on so many of our high streets, this song was particularly appropriate for the Bristol audience; a community of people known for taking a stance against the corporate machine in favour of its local businesses, artists and craftspeople.

Overall, there’s so much to enjoy about Duotone’s performances, both audibly and visually, and this particular performance, though short, was a delightfully ethereal experience. Let’s Get Low, with its appropriately quirky, yet forlorn album cover, is a worthy follow up to the acclaimed 2010 album Ropes and his 2009 debut album Work Harder & One Day You’ll Find Her and is now available from

Esther Hall