University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Black Water County: A stylish return to mainstream folk music?

Harry Turnbull

ByHarry Turnbull

Jul 5, 2024

Black Water County emerged from Dorset’s country hills and moors, bursting onto the scene
from pub rockers to legends of the UK Folk-Rock scene. At the start of November 2023, they
released their third studio album “The Only Life Worth Living”, filled to the brim with pop-
punk instrumentation, emo angst and folk fusion galore. I was lucky enough to speak with
the two vocalists of the band Tim and Sian, addressing their album, COVID and their

Harry: Your newest album, The Only Life Worth Living. I enjoyed it. I thought it had a great
consistency to it, so I liked it. How would you guys categorize it within your discography?
How would you say this one stands out from your previous two albums?

Tim: Personally, this is my favourite album we’ve done, and I’m sure that everybody says
that about the new album. But like for me, it’s just like the the modern evolution of our
sound. We have just got a little bit older from when we wrote The Last Couple, and I think
that’s reflected in the music. We’ve also collectively had a really hard time with COVID and
trying to bounce back gigging from that.

Sian- Yeah. I’m pretty proud of this album. I think it amalgamates a lot of themes we have
mentioned in the past couple. You know, like we always fall back to like a heartbreak song
and stuff like that. I think, you know, the themes maybe have just gotten a little bit more
introspective, less like angry at the world and angrier at ourselves. And I think maybe people
can relate to that a bit more.

Harry: You mentioned lockdown. You’re all you know, you came from the pop-rock scene
and you just started to break through when COVID happened. How did you guys work
around that?

Tim: Well, it was a little bit more severe than that for us because the last album that we
launched, we launched it immediately before Lockdown. We did our album launch gig and
we had a whole tour, but we were going to run on dates in Germany, France and all those
books. But then obviously the government said, No, it can’t go outside, got to stay in. And so
we did, and we had to resort to getting crowdfunding for the album because we didn’t get
the gig to raise the money to make it ourselves. So we kind of were suddenly having to do in
a bind in a way that we’d never done before. You know, it’s hard enough pitching in around
work and the rest of life as it is, but I think to finally be able to come out and finally get the
new album gigging, it just feels so good.

Sian: Let alone the recording for like the best part of a year. But we’ve been sitting on the
material for years since then, everything flopped on the last one about three years ago, and
we’ve just been like, Right, let’s just move on quickly.

Harry: You guys are local legends from Dorset. You know – I won’t sugar-coat it – you
indulged a lot in the pub rock scene. And I noticed one pub in particular, the White Hart in
Wimborne. You guys have sort of a cult following. I was wondering, you know, what that
specific pub meant to them, how that was foundational to your career.

Tim: That was, growing up, my local for a very, very, very long time. And actually, I live in
Bristol now. I lived I moved here a couple of years ago and I started doing a master’s. And
while I was doing the Masters, I worked at a bar with somebody who I grew up with and
used to work at the White Hart when I was coming out to drink. It was one of those kind of
pass-like-found family moments that we had as a band where we had this little community
going around us. The first of many. Luckily for us, we’ve been very, very lucky. But it was just
this nice, warm, little glowy feeling and you get this impression of like, Oh, I could carry on
doing this. And like I said, you know, here we are a decade later still doing it. The warm
fuzzies. But that was one of the first places we did a couple of little acoustic nights there.
We played at the Wimbledon Folk Festival in the year when the council got mad and they
wouldn’t let anyone play outside. So we were all round inside sweating a bit.

Sian: So many New Year’s Eve that Christmas Eve there as well. A couple of times, like
equally crammed into the corner with lots of sweaty people shouting in each other’s faces,
like it’s hard to see how that would ever happen. post-COVID certainly did by the awesome.

Image taken by Black Water County

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