Andrew Keegan and Toni Randle are the Auckland based alt folk duo Eyreton Hall.
From musical worlds in different parts of the antipodes, Toni was born in Christchurch and Andy in Sydney. Toni had a misspent youth filled with dancing and piano lessons, musical theatre, and classical voice examinations – which accounts for her melancholy lyrics. Andy played big band music and busked every weekend, which accounts for his penchant for loose change. It was only natural that the world of folk would start to call to them.
Their worlds collided at the Sydney Conservatorium where both were studying that lesser-known folk sub genre – jazz. At 19(Andy) and 21 (Toni) they knew exactly what they wanted from life and settled into deep philosophical debates, comfortably nestled on the family couch, fueled by the heady perfume of cheap wine and unpaid meals from Mamma Keegan’s kitchen. A musical partnership was formed.
There followed a brief sojourn to Japan and a move to Melbourne where they formed ‘The Portraits’. With a shared love of all things Rufus and Radiohead their music was a pre-kids melodic romp with dark and brooding messages of love and loss.
Just as ‘The Portraits’ began getting some serious notice – Toni threw off her shoes and got pregnant with their first little boy. Life: Stopped. And subsequently so did the music for two years. In 2010 at a shindig thrown by Toni’s parents they officially became Mr and Mrs Keegan.
As musicians with an impeccable sense of timing, Toni and Andy moved to Christchurch, alighting on Kiwi soil just in time for the Christchurch earthquakes. Pregnant with their second child, surrounded by natural beauty and the aftermath of horrific events, the music began again.
It became apparent that the time had come to document their musings. So with a new babe, a toddler, two dogs and often two grandparents along for the ride, they recorded at Eyreton Hall - a little former school hall – just down the road from Toni’s parents’ olive grove.
Like many others, finding no room at the inn for them in Christchurch, with heavy hearts, this nomadic troupe made the move to Auckland. Along the trail they collected a man with a four stringed guitar; a guitar with a ten-fingered owner; and a long lost brother-harbouring secret desires for banjos and string basses. (Mark Hughes, Sam Taylor and Tim Randle). And so, Eyreton Hall was born.
“Featherstitch by the folk-inflected duo Eyreton Hall, is a modern classic – full of natural imagery, intimate confessions, and warm, heavenly harmonies… This is folk classicism, or roots pop, take your pick… A masterfully crafted debut, from a talented pair of musicians, interjecting folk music with the complexity, nuance and detail of jazz and classic pop… as much Elton John, as Mississippi John Hurt. Highest possible recommendation! Rating: 8.9/10
- Forest Punk. The Drainage – Portland U.S.A.
“Ranging from homespun, dusty folk (the Marriage) to sprawling, almost messy rock (Lovelessly) and plaintive, piano-driven ballads (the title track), Featherstitch’s highlights are many… Frontwoman Toni Randle’s excellent sense of melody and bell-like vocal clarity aside, the assured songwriting is complemented by harmonies, horns, banjos and other warm textures that provide just enough clutter to keep things interesting throughout this 12-song rumination on children, love and life’s little moments”. Rating: 4/5
- Shane Gilcirst – Otago Daily Times, Otago, N.Z.
“Randle has a gorgeous ache in her voice but also an assurance that is mature, and the songs step confidently between alt. country, Anglofolk (Just in Case Allelujah) and a kind of haunting turned-down rock of the kind Fleetwood Mac in their classic period might have made if they were attuned to Sixties Serge Gainsbourg… This really is a surprise and surprisingly good, and definitely worth seeking out if those references mean anything”.
- Graham Reid – Elsewhere, Auckland N.Z.