Lindsay Straw – The Fairest Flower of Womankind
Self Released – 2017
Guitarist and bouzouki artist Lindsay Straw recently released her second album, The Fairest Flower of Womankind. Her debut album, My Mind From Love Being Free, a collection of love songs, came together organically—the theme emerged after selecting songs for the pure love of melody. By contrast, Straw’s second album deliberately curated “traditional songs that resonated with me as a woman.” This theme weaves strong storytelling as Straw’s voice translates the plights and triumphs of women from the old world to the new with sensitive arrangements.
The lyrics of the curated ballads are plucky heroines, women who save themselves or their fortunes, outwit enemies, forge their own livelihoods, and transform erstwhile lovers into honest men. The instrumentals of the ‘Maid on the Shore’ captures the melancholy of sailors who have been too long at sea, and Straw’s vocals rise to voice the heroine as she escapes her captors. ‘Blow Away the Morning Dew’ is a sunny composition with jovial vocal and accompaniment, while the lone fiddle in the ‘The Outlandish Knight’ stirs a sense of trepidation that the maiden in question overcomes she expresses the violence of the knight through abrupt fiddle playing. The ‘Crafty Maid’s Policy’ celebrates women’s resourcefulness and then dissolves into a joyful reel. ‘Geordie,’ Straw’s personal favourite on the album, is a determined heroine and the titular ‘Fairest Flower of Womankind.’
The album conjures a fondly remembered night of song and merriment in a pub full of feisty women. Members of The Ivy Leaf, Straw’s joint endeavour with fellow Bostonian musicians, join Straw throughout the album on concertina, fiddle, and harmonica, and collectively are responsible for the convivial tone of the work as a whole. The album proved a truly communal production, as Straw worked with engineer Jim Prendergast at Mill Pond Music Studio in Portsmouth, NH to record, mix and master the project, and French graphic designer Amandine Comte designed the album cover. The recording was bolstered by a Passim Iguana individual grant and enthusiastic Kickstarter backers. Clearly, Straw’s determination to collect, arrange, orchestrate, and sing the narratives of women in traditional song resonates with audiences today.
If Straw’s debut album, “sounds like no one but herself,” then her second album imparts that authenticity to the voices of women whose stories speak to a new generation. The lead vocals taking on a new character for each track, cultivating a tone that is merry, sultry, dreamy, or calm as the occasion demands. As Straw insists, “ballads need conviction to be told,” and with dedication and artistry, Straw translates women-centric ballads for a new audience to enjoy.
The Fairest Flower of Womankind is out now.
Upcoming US Tour Dates
May 11 | Providence, RI: 186 Carpenter PROVIDENCE CD RELEASE! w/ The Vox Hunters, 7:30pm, $10 cover
May 28 | Cambridge, MA: Club Passim’s campfire. festival – In the Round, 3-4:20pm
Jun 6 | Cambridge, MA: Club Passim BOSTON CD RELEASE! w/ The Vox Hunters, 8pm, $15/13 cover
Jun 10 | Cambridge, MA: Club Passim Live Music Brunch, 10:00am-1:30pm, no cover
Jun 15 | Willimantic, CT: Willimantic 3rd Thursday Street Fest w/ The Ivy Leaf, 6:00-7:15pm
Jul 1 | Marblehead, MA: Marblehead Farmers Market, 9:15-11:30pm
Jul 6 | Belmont, MA: Belmont Farmers Market, 2pm
Jul 15 + 16 | Belfast, ME: Maine Celtic Celebration, time slots TBD
Jul 23 | Cambridge, MA: Club Passim Live Music Brunch, 10:00am-1:30pm – no cover
Aug 3 | Salem, MA: Salem Farmers Market, 5-7pm
Aug 12 | Winchester, MA: Winchester Farmers Market, 12:15-1:30pm
Aug 13 | Winthrop, MA: Winthrop Farmers Market, 11:30am-2pm
Sept 5 | Cambridge, MA: Club Passim’s Kendall Square Concert Series, 12-1pm – free!
Sept 16 | Braintree, MA: Braintree Farmers Market, 9am-1pm
Sept 30 | Winchester, MA: Winchester Farmers Market, 11:00am-12:15pm