Tom Herbert (bass) and Alice Grant (vocals) have formed the duo Moats & Thrones, building on their successful individual work with bands ranging from The Invisible (Herbert) to Matthew Herbert Big Band (Grant). As husband and
wife, their personal lives and musical careers have been intertwined since meeting on London’s vibrant experimental music scene in 2005.
Moats & Thrones differs from the couple’s previous projects with its pared down sound highlighting the individuality of both voice and double bass. The music’s intimate, descriptive power is conveyed beautifully by Alice’s vocals – traversing soft tenderness and raw, full-throated abandon. Meanwhile Tom’s playing is creative and unorthodox – he drives forward their cover of Joni Mitchell’s Black Crow with rhythmic strumming and percussive striking of the strings, and his creaking bowing in Heartbeat eloquently complements affecting vocals.
“I like music with an emotional honesty,” says Alice. “I want the music to transport people and tell a story.”
Singing for Matthew Herbert Big Band and fronting Seb Rochford’s Fulborn Teversham, Alice’s idiosyncratic vocal range has developed alongside her songwriting skills, showcased in her other projects Alice and the Cool Dudes
and Normal Gimbel. Like husband Tom, who is best known for the Mercury Award nominated bands The Invisible and Polar Bear, the couple share an interest in off-kilter approaches to pop, jazz and folk music, with Moats & Thrones referencing Nina Simone, Prince and Elliot Smith.
In their forthcoming EP, Moats & Thrones’ songs range from Fanx Gott’s dreamlike imagery, conjuring up dark fairy tales, while the incredibly poignant After this Day is a moving expression of grief. For me is simply a direct love song: “You are for me, this I can’t explain. There is nothing left to say.”
Not surprisingly, Moats & Thrones have garnered a faithful following since emerging on the scene and have won praise from the likes of ESKA, Mara Carlyle and Hejira, to name a few. Their moving and unique sound resists categorisation, but sits just as happily in a jazz or folk festival, poetry recital or pop gig. This is music that touches whoever hears it.