Spotlight on Stornoway

‘Stornoway’ is a defiantly English folk band from the Cowley area of Oxford. Their debut single ‘Zorbing’ compares the dizzy rush of first love to an obscure New Zealand sport invented in the ’90s. For the uninitiated, zorbing involves rolling down hills or open fields encased in a giant transparent plastic ball. This wry cleverness is so characteristic of Stornoway, whose members met in their freshman year at Oxford University. In fact, lead singer/guitarist Brian Briggs and keyboard player Jon Ouin both have PhDs (in ornithology and Russian translation, respectively). This eclectic academic background is part of the reason their lyrical sensibility is so unique. They are also a musically diverse group, instrumentally their albums include a triumphant horn section, banjo and Celtic fiddles.

Their debut ‘Beachcomber’s Windowsill’ is one of my favourite albums, it reminds me of an idyllic English seaside town, it’s dreamy and sun dappled. They sound like a Belle and Sebastian/Kinks crossover. With more seabirds.