We were recently introduced to Bridie Jackson and The Arbour a band from Newcastle Upon Tyne who launched their debut album ‘Bitter Lullabies‘ at The Sage Gateshead earlier this year. I promise you that you have never heard anything like them before, from their opening track ‘We Talked Again‘ the use of bell plates creates a peaceful space, perfect for introducing Bridie Jackson’s plaintive vocals. The album has minimalist layers and arrangements from which guitar and cello ripple beneath some of the richest harmonies I’ve heard in a long time. Their artistry is truly sublime.
We invited the band in for a session which you can listen to and download below. We also spoke to two of the band members: Bridie Jackson (Guitar, Piano, Lead Vocal) and Carol Bowden (Vocals, Percussion, Bell Plates) about their influences and how they go about creating their music.
Can you share with our readers where some of your musical influences originate from?
BJ Probably my biggest influences are my parents- My mum is a very talented writer (Now retired) and my dad’s a composer/ethnomusicologist so I spent alot of my childhood travelling around Europe with him, which was very musically formative. I also always sang in choirs and played in orchestras from a young age, which definitely shaped by arrangement skills.
How did Bridie Jackson and The Arbour come into being?
BJ I used to play as a soloist and did so for years before I tentatively began collaborating and quickly realised it was a much more enjoyable and musically satisfying way of doing things.
You all seem very tuned into each other when you perform, especially with your harmonies, is this an intuitive or more classical process?
BJ A bit of both. Sometimes I score them, other times we try things out until it feels right. Either way, they inevitably evolve over time anyway.
CB Intuitive. We work well together. There are times when Bridie is exact about what she wants and others where we work on bits and pieces and pull ideas together.
Bell plates…that’s not an instrument you see used very often, how did that come about?
BJ We borrowed a set [of bell plates] to write ‘We talked again’ and then got a bit obsessed with them and have to constantly fight the urge to involve them in everything we write!
You launched you debut album at The Sage Gateshead and to a full house! That’s an incredible achievement. Were you fairly established on the scene prior to the launch?
BJ Thanks! We were beginning to build a good reputation, but still, I think we were all pretty surprised we sold out and the impact it’s had since…
CB Just having an album to promote was exciting in itself so to have a full house to perform it to was an amazing experience. I remember the run up to the gig and how quickly the tickets were selling and I just couldn’t believe it. I was enjoying myself so much, working with Bridie and The Arbour, and I knew what we were doing was good, but I hadn’t clocked just how much other people enjoyed what we do. I am immensely proud of us all for that and so grateful to be part of it.
You’ve been touring recently which kicked off in London at The Slaughtered Lamb and culminated at Solfest. How did you find that experience?
CB: Exciting, fun, bonkers, diverse. It was great for a bunch of friends to get in a van, travel around, sing 80’s tunes, meet some amazing and interesting people and get to play every night.
What are you listening to?
BJ Stevie Wonder. Can’t get enough of him
CB Gotye – Making Mirrors and Like Drawing Blood; Peter Gabriel 4; Talking Heads – Speaking in Tongues
What are you reading?
BJ David Saderis Me talk pretty one day. The man is a comic genius
CB Margaret Atwood – MaddAddam Trilogy; George R R Martin – Game of Thrones
Recommend an artist you think our listeners may be interested in.
BJ The Choir of Young Believers, a Swedish band. They wrote the theme tune to The Bridge and some other rather good tunes too.
CB Shameful north east plug: Matt Stalker and Fables, Emily Portman, The Cornshed Sisters, Ditte Elly
Folk Radio UK Session
Bridie Jackson and The Arbour have lots of great gigs coming up – make sure you go to see them live! Check their website: