We are the Wildlife – the forthcoming debut solo LP from celebrated Irish folk chanteuse and harpist Brona McVittie – features the tracks Under The Pines and Newry Mountain which were released as a double A side single in June 2017. We are the Wildlife is gaining coverage from Uncut, Mojo, R2 and The Guardian and previous single Under The Pines premiered on Folk Radio UK and received airplay from Lauren Laverne on BBC 6Music and Lynette Fay and Eve Blair on BBC Ulster.
We are the Wildlife is a psycho-geographic journey through a collection of traditional folk ballads and original compositions inspired as much by the geometries of London’s urban fringes as by the sonic phenomena within the great rural landscapes of Mourne. This mixing of traditional songs with her own compositions, and thematic ties between songs old and new, coupled with the use of traditional instruments (harp/flute/strings, etc.) against subtle electronic backdrops and innovative production techniques all adds up to a record that is heartfelt, timeless and yet pleasingly contemporary in feel, a perfect mix of new and old, on every front. In an exclusive first listen, you can hear the album in full below ahead of its release on 12 January.
The title track We are the Wildlife was seeded from the “electric trees” (pylons) of the Lea Valley and embodies the philosophy that humans along with their infrastructure are as much a part of nature as spiders and webs. Under the Pines arose from the reverberation of dogs barking off the trees on the edge of Rostrevor’s pine forest. McVittie’s inspiration draws deeply from Irish folklore – she borrows several of her song titles from W.B. Yeats: When the Angels Wake You references the ancient Celtic perception of death; And the Glamour Fell On Her – another way of saying she was ‘away with the fairies’; and the only instrumental on the album The Vast and Vague Extravagance that Lies at the Bottom of the Celtic Heart alludes to something beyond the range of expression, which Yeats sees as “the great Celtic phantasmagoria whose meaning no man has discovered, nor any angel revealed”.
The lesser-heard traditional County Down love ballads The Flower of Magherally and Newry Mountain are thematically and geographically balanced against the tragicomic Molly Brannigan (after the singing of flute-player and Sligo farmer, Colm O’Donnell) and death ballad The Jug of Punch (after Joe Heaney’s The Road from Connemara).
Brona’s musical influences are wide-ranging, from the hymns that she sang at school and her teenage obsession with Prince, to 70s folk innovators such as John Martyn and Bert Jansch. She tends to write on guitar, later translating song arrangements onto harp. Her influences include modern day post-folk electronic artists such as Juana Molina, Tunng, early Colleen, and even Portishead. In contrast, she is also equally stimulated listening to traditional archive recordings, such as Alan Lomax, and classical composers including Satie and Beethoven.
Aside from her fledgeling solo career, Brona Mcvittie has built up widespread international acclaim for her work with Irish all-female folk legends The London Lasses, a capella ensemble Rún and post-folk trio Littlebow with Katie English (Isnaj Dui/The Doomed Birds of Providence) and Keiron Phelan. She launches the album in London at the Tea House Theatre on Friday 19th January 2018 and will be touring the UK and Ireland.
We are the Wildlife features harp and subtle ambient effects with the lush richness of orchestral strings from specialist Richard Curran, who has recorded with Bert Jansch and Steve Tilston, trumpet from film-composer Hutch Demouilpied, flute from Keiron Phelan (State River Widening, Smile Down Upon Us, littlebow) and Anne Garner (Slowcraft Records), and slide guitar and drums from artist/producer Myles Cochran. We are the Wildlife was mastered by Myles Cochran at Mineur Studios, France.
We Are The Wildlife – tracklist:
- When the Angels Wake You
- The Flower of Magherally (Trad Arr)
- We are the Wildlife
- And the Glamour Fell on Her
- Broken Like the Morning
- Under the Pines
- Newry Mountain (Trad Arr)
- Molly Brannigan (Trad Arr)
- The Vast and Vague Extravagance that Lies at the Bottom of the Celtic Heart
- The Jug of Punch (Trad Arr)
We are the Wildlife album launch show:
Friday 19th January at 20.00
LONDON: The Tea House Theatre, 139 Vauxhall Walk, SE11 5HL
Tickets: £8 | £15 with CD TICKET LINK
Jointly promoted by Folk on Monday and IMDL (Irish Music and Dance in London)