Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker are a BBC award winning folk music duo from England. Their music receives various genre labels including folk, traditional folk, and chamber folk, but I would describe it simply as mesmerizing and haunting. They play a mixture of original songs, traditional folk songs, as well as some covers, and have released several albums and EPs. Josienne performs all vocals and some acoustic guitar, while Ben plays acoustic guitar and some mandolin.
The duo are self-described specialists in ballads, and more specifically, ballads which are tinged with melancholy. During live performances and interviews, they have a pleasing dry wit and self-deprecating sense of humor about their musical style. Josienne frequently describes their concerts as a “barrage of ballads” and many of their songs as “musings on melancholy.” Based on some past interviews, the duo apparently does not appreciate any casual suggestions that they should “cheer up” and perform happier songs, and I agree that they should not!
My first exposure to the music of Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker was in 2013. The BBC television series Wallander features a melancholic sounding theme song called “Nostalgia,” which was written and performed by Australian born folk artist Emily Barker. After immersing myself in the music of Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, I noticed that the cellist and violinist from that band also performed with Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker. After hearing the song “One Light is Gone” from Josienne’s first album, I was immediately smitten.