Marry Waterson and David A. Jaycock are set to release their second album as a duo, the wonderful Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love, out via One Little Indian Records on 29th September. Featuring a plethora of notable collaborations with the likes of celebrated singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams, Romeo Stodart (The Magic Numbers), Emma Smith (The Elysian Quartet), John Parish (PJ Harvey) and produced by Portishead’s Adrian Utley, the uniquely atmospheric, dark and haunting folk record focusses Waterson and Jaycock’s singular voice and sets them apart. Watch their new video for their lead single Small Ways and Slowly (also our Song of the Day) which was made by the talented Marry whose animations have been in big demand and have featured widely on Folk Radio UK for the likes of O’Hooley & Tidow, Maz O’Connor, Emily Portman, Kathryn Williams and Bill Wells.
Having enjoyed roaring success with 2015’s Two Wolves, which was produced by guitarist Neil MacColl and Kate St. John, the duo toured extensively at the beginning of 2016 supporting Richard Hawley. The album garnered praise from The Guardian, The Independent, Q, Mojo, Metro, fROOTS, R2 and Songlines, and was nominated for two folk awards from BBC Radio 2.
Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love follows in the previous record’s authentic English folk style, similarly inspired by personal experience, but told through the form of historical fables. Marry describes how she reworked fables to convey a common theme throughout the album, of feeling ‘lost’.
“When I get to writing it takes over a bit, and I drop everything else, and I write until I’ve got no more to say for now” says Marry. “I write in bed, hiding myself away like my Mum did. Once my Dad called in and came upstairs and saw me in bed surrounded by notebooks, pens and scrawls and said: “this looks familiar”. It feels like a tiny spiral in the centre of my chest that turns and gets bigger until I have to stop and write.”
And working with Portishead’s Adrain Utley has freshened Waterson and Jaycock’s signature style; the record evidently treads new ground. The opening track, The Vain Jackdaw, was inspired by the classic Aesop Fables. “The inside cover of my tattered copy bears the lines ‘This Book Bilongs to Me. Address 160 Hull. 8 years old’, says Marry. The vocal was recorded outside on the rooftop, and left totally unaccompanied, apart from a haunting guitar intro. Utley wanted Marry to “sing into the air like a bird”.
Title track Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love came about due to Marry’s interest in local history. One of the last few remaining maidens’ crowns is housed in an 1800’s church in Robin Hood’s Bay (where Marry lives). Waterson explains: “I sang there for the BBCR2 folk show in 2016, and as I explained the custom of the maidens’ crowns to Mark Radcliffe, I realised I wanted to write about it. Virgins’ crowns or ‘crants’ – derived from the German word ‘kranz’ means wreath, garland or chaplet (crown), of the kind mentioned in Shakespeare’s Hamlet at the burial of Ophelia. ‘…. She is allowed her virgin crants, her maiden strewments’.”
“The maidens’ crown, or garland, would be carried before the coffin of a maid or a similar looking girl would wear it in the funeral procession. The garlands were embellished with strips of white linen, paper flowers and ribbons, or white gloves to symbolise purity. It was customary to hang the garlands up in the church above the dead girls’ pew.
“The quote “death had quicker wings than love” is found in the works of the late Reverend John Wesley and according to a tragic tale, was inscribed on the gravestone of Mary Woodson who died on her way to be married at Beeley Church in 1785. No longer visible on the gravestone a copy of the following transcription is said to be kept in safekeeping in the village.
A faithful maid lies buried here.
A lover true a friend sincere.
She wished the marriage state to prove
But death had quicker wings than love.
Here o’er her corpse her friend
Regrets her short and hasty end.
This sculptured stone his passion rears
and bathes her hapless name in tears.
But hold fond swain Nor wing thy constant heart
We’ll meet again Hereafter ne’er to part.
Pre-Order Death Had Quicker Wings Than Love here: https://oli.lnk.to/DHQWTLAW