The Big Eyes Family Players are back with a follow-up to one of our favourite albums with ‘Folk Songs II‘. Whilst not overjoyed at the prospect of another folk album The Big Eyes Family Players head man and ‘folk heathen’ James Green went ahead with James Yorkston‘s suggestion…thankfully he did as the results were worth all the effort.
Folk Songs II does not swim in the restricted waters of authenticity but instead opts for a freer approach which allows artists to give a voice to their songs that they feel is the most appropriate. With this is mind the guest artists selected for ‘Folk Songs II’ couldn’t have been more perfect for this unchartered territory. Regular listeners to Folk Radio UK will be familiar with most of them: Alasdair Roberts, Nancy Elizabeth, James Yorkston, Elle Osborne, Mary Hampton, Adrian Crowley, James William Hindle, Heather Ditch and Sharron Kraus.
Each artist chose a traditional song of choice, their reasons for which are explained in the liner notes. Some are well known whilst others are less so. Mary Hampton and Sharon Kraus chose ‘A Man Indeed‘, based on a nonsense rhyme / old English riddle. James Yorkston chose a lovely Archie Fisher song ‘Looly Looly‘ and Alasdair selects the fine ‘The Coast O’ Spain‘ from the Scottish Traveller singer Elizabeth Stewart. James Yorkston re-ignites his love for Anne Briggs on ‘Doffing Mistress‘ and James William Hindle opts for melody over song on ‘Don’t You Be Foolish, Pray‘ after hearing it performed by Nic Jones.
The arrangements are given equal importance as you’d expect from The Big Eyes Family Players who tend to favour instrumental over voice in their non-collaborative works. Vocals are given prevalence and arrangements are often subdued, subtle, atmospheric and melancholy. They set the stage and provide the perfect all important back-drop which helps bring those songs alive. The Big Eyes Family Players have proven yet again that they are sensitive interpreters of traditional folk songs and that their unchartered approach, whilst original, is also one of the most moving and entertaining means of delivering these songs of ghosts when you have a line-up like this. A sure winner!
Folk Songs II is scheduled for release on Static Caravan at the beginning of August 2012.