Sharron Kraus has been described as “Shirley & Dolly Collins melded into one” along with some semblance to Anne Briggs. Whilst this was intended as an accolade, which it is, she is not your typical “folk” singer as her latest album, The Woody Nightshade, demonstrates.
Her work is unmarred by twee pop sensibilities and commercial expectation. Her vocal style is soft and endearing but don’t be fooled, as she will guide you through a dark land. Her contrasting early love for folk and cerebral gothic music have created a unique and often dark sound of her own. She has never been one for standing still: She has performed with Irish free-folk collective United Bible Studies and alongside Trembling Bells’ Alex Neilson. Sharron has also embarked on recorded partnerships with Californian troubadour Christian Kiefer on 2006’s The Black Dove; Espers’ Meg Baird and Helena Espvall on the traditional album Leaves From Off The Tree that same year; and gathered an ensemble cast of folk singers on Right Wantonly A-Mumming in 2007 for a collection of seasonal songs.
The Woody Nightshade is her fourth studion album. Her fad free approach to folk continues, all be it along a slightly different path from her last album, The Fox’s Wedding. Drums, electric guitar and bass take the place of banjo and fiddle to transport us once more again into her timeless myth filled world. We’re not talking a Dylan goes electric moment here, she instead offers a new screen through which to experience her work. The effect is subtle yet dramatic and adds new tone and colour to her songs.
She is joined by some of her favourite singers and musicans: Nancy Wallace, Susanna Starling, Clare Button (backing vocals), Mark Wilden (drums), Christophe Albertijn (electric guitar, lap steel and bass), Vincent de Roguin (analog circuitry).
The album has it’s dark and serene moments and it makes a great contrast to other folk music of today, she reminds me of a female version of Alasdair Roberts and she will have you revisiting for more.
Video: Performing “The River’s Daughter” earlier this year:
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Buy CD: Woody Nightshade