Emily Portman first came to our attention back in 2008 as a memeber of The Devils’ Interval (with Jim Causley and Lauren McCormick) and as the solo singer for Rubus on their stunning debut release Nine Witch Knots. Both albums were released on the English folk music label Wild Goose Records and featured on Folk Radio UK. Emily has a striking voice which makes a prominent presence on any collaboration she has featured on. Whilst her songs are based around tradition and English folklore their arrangements have a contemporary and alternative feel to them. It wasn’t until 2010 that she released her solo debut ‘The Glamoury‘ which has also featured in our playlists. The album gained her two BBC Folk Award nominations and a glowing commendation from Uncut magazine who described her as ‘one of the new British folk scene’s most beguiling presences’.
Hinge of the Year is Emily’s latest EP that marks the path towards her work on a new album which has been made possible by a funding award by PRS as part of their ‘Women Make Music’ innitiative, a unique funding opportunity to raise the profile of female music creators across the UK. On the EP she is joind by Rachel Newton and Lucy Farrell who provide bountiful harmonies to Emily’s angelic voice.
In true Portman style Emily continues with her traditional fairytale model upon which she lays before us incredible tales that take a peak at the darker underbelly behind the commonplace. Angela Carter’s ‘Night at the Circus’ (1984) inspires the title track which focuses on the fictional character Fevvers ‘a woman who is – or so she would have people believe – a Cockney virgin, hatched from an egg laid by unknown parents and ready to develop fully fledged wings’. Emily’s vocals have an aura that invokes an innocent sound, an irony to those darker lyrics she conjures up, the result is an air of mystery and foreboding to any song she sings.
Scorching Sun features a brass band upon which she unfolds a tale of Kings from their new-born innocence to their eventual battle cries and firing guns that betrays their mother’s nurturing.
Moon Shines Bright is a lovely traditional Christmas / New year song. Unaccompanied three part harmonies call to mind The Watersons Frost and Fire. If these three tracks are a taster of what is to come then we are definately in for a treat. There is no denying Emily Portman has a beautiful voice but her lyrics are out of this world. Wherever she takes her inspiration from I hope it is bottomless. A fantastic EP from a British folk leading light!
Hinge of the Year will be released on November 28th and to mark its release Emily will be launching the EP at The Sage Gateshead. The night will feature the Emily Portman Trio plus Jonny Kearney, Methera’s cellist Lucy Deakin and a brass band. The concert will feature favourites from the Glamoury alongside a special preview of brand new material which will appear on Emily’s forthcoming album.
It will be available as a Limited Edition 7″ Vinyl or digital via bandcamp. The artwork for the EP is by the well known folk artist David Owen.
The Emily Portman Trio will also be appearing at King’s Place on Friday, 9 December 2011 – 8:00pm (details here)