Last month we gave you a taster of Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker’s new album ‘Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour’ when we featured a video of them performing ‘Silverline’ at Wooden Heart Studios (also featured below). Josienne very kindly took some time out to tell us more about the new album which promises to their most ‘audacious’ project to date:
2013 was a fantastic year for us, the release of our album Fire & Fortune, brought great press, exciting gigs, new awards and even some BBC Folk Award nominations. That’s all great but it did mean this year’s release had a lot to live up to!
So we wanted to build on what we’d previously achieved and move things on a bit. On the last record we’d experimented with string quartets and a little bit of layered vocals but it was on quite a small and subtle scale. This time we wanted to let the reins go and see if we could make something that was suitably us but bigger and more vibrant.
By this point Ben had been experimenting with chamber ensemble orchestration; It seemed to complement our sound as a guitar/vocal duo really well and we felt confident that the time had come to attempt something larger and more varied than we’d ever attempted before.
This meant we needed a crack team of extra musicians to make up the orchestra and various ensembles we wanted to use. Ben and I have been playing on the circuit for 5 years now and in that time we’ve met some of the best musicians in the country so we knew exactly who to approach.
Emily Barker’s Red Clay Halo
We had already used the string work of Jo Silverston (cello), Anna Jenkins (violin/viola) and Jessie Moncrieff (violin) on previous records; most people will know them from their work as Emily Barker’s ‘Red Clay Halo’. We were keen to get them involved with violinist Basia Bartz whose work we’d loved on our Homemade Heartache EP.
Jim Moray is a stalwart of the English folk scene; he has been releasing folk albums for no less than ten years and won many BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. He was instrumental in the success of our last album Fire and Fortune on which he played piano, and so he would naturally join us again on this one.
We’ve known Samantha Whates for years and always admired her songwriting and vocal style. I have wanted to do some singing together for a while and she was able to do some backing vocals for us at the Fire and Fortune album launch. Many people remarked on how well our voices blended and it seemed inevitable that she would be singing on the next album.
It sort of goes without saying why I chose Sam Brookes to sing a duet with me on this album, you only need to listen to anything he’s sung. I have admired his singing for a while and we’d been talking about doing some singing together, when I decided just to go ahead and write a song for us to sing. He has one of the most beautiful males voices around and he uses it to superb effect. Many male vocalists appear afraid to really get the grace and delicacy of sound that Sam uses without self consciousness or effort.
Ballina Whalers (Sam Brookes, Jamie Doe, Pete Truin)
We have over the last few years done a number shows with The Ballina Whalers and we love what they do. You can’t beat a bit of 3 part harmony and male 3 part harmony can be rare, certainly on the London Folk scene of late. Each member a superb singer in his own right the combination of them is stunning. Last summer Ben and I were offered a live session with Dermot O’Leary in the BBC 2 truck at Cambridge Folk Festival, Dermot had requested the song Fire and Fortune which features no less than 3 backing vocal parts underneath the main vocal melody so we asked the Ballina Whalers to join us. Not only was it great fun but it also sounded all the better for their involvement.
These guys are joined by lots of other great instrumentalists on this, our most audacious project to date!
Album Release & Launch
Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour is released on 01 October 2014
Pre-order ‘Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour’ via Bandcamp here – to get exclusive bonus material ahead of release.
Launch at The Purcell Room, the Southbank Centre 1st October
Come and watch them unveil it at The Purcell Room, the Southbank Centre, London on October 1st. Tickets are selling fast! – Ticket Link