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Photo credit: Pete Glover

Patakas, When You’re Ready – a review

'When You're Ready', the debut EP from Patakas, is a heartfelt, at times emotionally raw tribute to a dearly missed father and a childhood spent revelling in music.

Release Date
23 June 2023
Patakas, When You're Ready
With the help of veteran producer, Doug Bailey, Patakas have produced a tender, occasionally heartbreaking collection of songs that recall a childhood spent delighting in their father's repertoire. Probably not the EP either of them ever expected they'd have to make so early in their careers, nonetheless, it showcases two emerging talents and a brotherly bond that has clearly helped them through the hardest of times. An incredibly moving piece of work.

When You’re Ready is a family affair: tunes and songs recorded by the two Sartin brothers, several learnt at the knee of their father, Paul, all recorded in the Wild Goose studio run by their grandfather, Doug Bailey. And while it’s impossible not to listen to this EP without thinking about their lineage, there’s enough here to suggest that Patakas (their father’s university nickname) have a solid future ahead of them. Younger brother, Joe, is a confident singer and a strident guitarist (his style reminiscent, unsurprisingly, to that of Benji Kirkpatrick), while Will is a dexterous mandolin player – some may recognise him from the festival circuit with popular ceilidh band, Out of Hand – and a welcome presence on occasional backing vocals.

This is an unavoidably poignant release. As the notes accompanying When You’re Ready explain, “After the loss of our father in September last year, we spent a lot of time reminiscing over childhood memories together with our eldest brother, and the vast majority of those were times we spent playing or singing together. We realised that music has not only been something we’ve always loved doing, but has also created so many strong bonds and incredible memories, whether that was with direct family or friends that we consider family. So, in this spirit, we compiled the songs and tunes that we feel really captured strong memories for us.”

Somewhat inevitably, then, at least half of the tracks here directly recognise the influence of Paul’s work, either with Belshazzar’s Feast or with Faustus. However, Patakas are not a tribute act; this is not an exact replica. We’re already hearing signs that they can find their way into new arrangements and make these songs their own. ‘Thresherman’ is a real highlight and an obvious case in point. Paul recorded the song several times with Faustus and Belshazzar’s Feast, but Patakas have found dusky inspiration elsewhere. The production is pleasingly simple and reminiscent of early 70s folk; Nick Drake springs to mind as Joe teases out the opening notes, while Will’s mandolin harks back to ‘The Battle of Evermore’, neither of which you can imagine their dad reaching for as touchstones. It’s a refreshing take on a well-known song, and one that will no doubt become the duo’s calling card.

Elsewhere, there’s the chance to revel in their own musical talents. The opening track, ‘Spanish Ladies’, shows that Joe inherited the family vocal chords, as well as a sense of the dramatic. He belts this song out as though he were taking the stage on the first night of a West End premiere, his voice thrusting out above his own guitar and his brother’s weaving mandolin as though they were something to be well and truly conquered. The tune sets provide a similar showcase for Will’s speedy fingers, the highlight being his natty take on David Kosky’s ‘Mystery Itch’, which manages the rare feat of leaping about whilst retaining a wistful air.

The pair come together at the centre of the record for a rendition of ‘Country Carrier’, an 1846 music hall song attributed to Harry Clifton, most recently visited on Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne‘s 2017 debut. Will and Joe recall hearing it sung around the family home as children (Paul arranged it for the Andover Museum Loft Singers’ 2012 album, The Bedmaking), and there’s a playfulness to their rendition that owes much to those childhood memories. There’s also a real sense of support here – a brotherly bond that has been renewed under the most difficult of circumstances. It’s a pleasure to hear the two take the harmonies on the chorus, something we’d hope to hear more of as they develop their repertoire.

Ultimately, however, When You’re Ready can be seen as an act of catharsis – for the Sartin brothers themselves, as well as those listeners that knew their dad well. If you fall into the latter camp, the real challenge comes with the final track, ‘American Stranger/ Princess Waltz’. The first of these was guaranteed to bring a lump to the throat whenever Paul sang it, such is the beauty and melancholy of the melody, but it takes on so much more weight and poignance in the hands of his son, Joe, as the narrator searches for salvation in a world he no longer recognises. Couple that with their rendition of Paul’s composition, ‘Princess Waltz’ – Will giving voice to his emotions through his mandolin – and the eulogy is complete. I won’t say it’s an easy listen – as beautiful and well-executed as it is, the emotions bubble away right there at the surface and we’re each left with our own contemplations.

Given the set of circumstances surrounding the arrival of this EP, and that the Sartin brothers are barely out of short trousers, When You’re Ready is a surprisingly assured debut. You get the sense that the pair will go on to bigger things. I, for one, would love to see them supplemented by other musicians, taking festival stages by storm in a way that they’ll be able to call their own… but there’s plenty of time for that. For now, this is a tender, at times emotionally raw tribute to a father they clearly adored. They’ve certainly done him proud.

‘When You’re Ready’ is out now at the Wild Goose Records online shop. It gets a digital release on June 23rd.