Underground British alt-folk songwriter Joshua Malcolm, aka Calming River, has been losing a war against mainstream appeal for several years—occasionally a battle is won and someone recognises the depth of the murky undercurrent—but typically Malcolm’s work is tossed in the 'abstract’ category for a rainy day. Intricate fingerstyle guitar, often disconsolate lyrics, constant guitar re-turnings between songs and an unwillingness to engage with the audience don’t generally cut through the shadows in 2019. Or do they?
Malcolm spent several years outside the UK prior to returning in 2018 (single Haunted pt. I discusses such; "Ghosts they tell me run far from here, but I'm tired of running from the things that I held dear"). His travels developed his style and enabled valued collaborations: time in Denmark saw productive partnership with Aarhus-based musician Rasmus Nielsen and Copenhagen-based Spanish DJ Alvaro Suarez, whose juxtaposed blend of distorted guitar and sorrowing violin flow with Malcolm’s classically-tinged folk guitar style.
Recent singles, festival performances (e.g., Denmark’s Fanø Folk Festival) and press (e.g., Unsigned Guide, numerous Nordic blogs) have evidenced a growing appreciation for the songwriter.
In early 2019 the writer releases "Portrait of a Shadow" via Dendron Records (Denmark).
Folked Up! (London, 2019)
Slaughtered Lamb (London, 2019)
Melodica (Reykjavik, Iceland, 2018)
Worcester Music Festival (UK, 2018)
Fanø Folk Festival (Fanø, Denmark, 2018)
Spice of Life (London, UK, 2018)
Moth Club (London, UK, 2018)
Scaledown (London, UK, 2018)
The Centre and The Circle (London, 2018)
Gladstone Arms (London, UK, 2018)
Folking Around (London, UK, 2018)
The Lucky Pig (London, UK, 2018)
Atlas (Aarhus, Denmark, 2017)
Cristiania (Copenhagen, Denmark, 2017)
Melodica (Nottingham, UK, 2017)
Rosemount Hotel (Perth, Australia, 2017)
Haunted pt. I (Fairytales) & Haunted pt. II (Molina) (2018, double-single)
Anniversary (2017, single)
For The Echoes To See (2017, single)
The Ones That We Left Behind (2015, EP)
Afflict and Redeem (2014, EP)
A dissonance reverberates throughout like a calm river – tranquil, but with an opposing dormant force that rests with a somnolent fever.
Sound of Aarhus:
IF you like alternative music such as Sun Kil Moon, Jose Gonzales or Bon Iver, you’re attention is needed here.
Nordic Music Review:
This is an artist we have not given enough attention to over the last 3 years. Sometimes so much is thrown in our direction that we don't have time to stop, think and appreciate, and 'Calming River' is a songwriter that you just need to find that quiet 10 minutes to consider and enjoy.
Captivating and possessing significant emotional heft.
We Love That Sound:
He plays guitar so incredibly well.
Indeed calming and indubitably enchanting.
Intricate fingerpicking, numerous tunings and contemplative lyrics create an intimate and beautiful aesthetic.
Perhaps one of the most impressive independent acoustic artists currently releasing music in Europe.
Calming River’s tracks