It was in a tense atmosphere where I first heard the name, Twain. It was at a Big Thief gig in Manchester’s Deaf Institute back in November 2017. After finishing a song, I didn’t recognise, Adrianne Lenker announced that ‘was a cover of one of our favourite bands Twain’. To everyone’s surprise, one audience member retorted by shouting ‘they’re not as good as you’, Lenker though visibly shook, regained her calm and dismantled the unwarranted heckle, saying that she ‘didn’t like to think of music as a competition or that her band were better or worse than anyone else’ – a guiding principle that influences this very blog, a site with no rankings or ratings, just a simple desire to share what we love. Following that gig I became obsessed with Twain’s 2017 record ‘Rare Feeling’, an album of folk music so wholesome and so natural, it sounded like it was sent forth from the soil rather than from man.
It actually emanated from Mat Davidson (Twain). And, funnily like Lenker’s comments from 2017, his latest single, the second from his frankly remarkable new album ‘Adventure’, interrogates the idea of binaries, good and bad, black and white, better or worse, male and female. As children, my brothers and I would often gather around my grandad, eager for him to impart some wisdom upon us and Davidson takes on a similar role here, gold nugget after gold nugget spouting from him. “Call yourself a man / call yourself a woman / I call myself alive” he sings. In the chorus, Davidson shows his contempt at the process of categorisation that society subjects us to as children. “I know my mind / and it never knew the difference between the two / ‘til they say, ‘hey you, this is what you are’”. Just like you and I, Davidson is beyond categorisation, his music is beyond words, a man-made system of language could never do justice to something so otherworldly.