This week’s Folk Show is filled to the brim with new releases. Anna and Elizabeth feature on the mix cover (press image by John Cohen) as we have a new track from their new album The Invisible Comes To Us. We’ve also music from forthcoming releases by Blowzabella, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker, Iona Fyfe, Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, The Fretless, Michael McGoldrick, Moore Moss Rutter, Jack Hayter and You Are Wolf.
The rest are pretty recent releases including Peter Knight & John Spiers whose debut album Well Met, is a Featured Album of the Month.
The main image is fresh off my camera today from a walk I did this afternoon up on the Quantock Hills in Somerset near Crowcombe. I startled (or rather my dog did) a beautiful Snipe out of hiding and as it took flight I turned to watch it and caught sight of this abandoned barn which I’d initially missed as it was so well camouflaged by mother nature. For some reason, it seemed to fit well with the opening track and that John Cohen image of Anna and Elizabeth. A glimpse of something old beneath with nature allowed to take its own path without hindrance. The same can be said for many of the artists here who take from the past but add their own stamp and by doing so bring a fresh new and exciting sound.
Folk Show Playlist
Anna & Elizabeth – Ripest of Apples
From their new album, The Invisible Comes To Us is set for release on 23 April via Smithsonian Folkways. We’re big fans of the Avant-Garde folk duo but this album, in particular, feels significant. Their 7″ single Hop High / Here in the Vineyard, released at the beginning of 2017, saw them shift from their minimalist neo-traditional sound to the avant-garde with the help of producers Alec Spiegelman and Benjamin Lazar Davis. The Invisible Comes To Us is a fuller immersion and exploration of that new found freedom and form of expression with Davis co-producing with Anna. Their sonic palette is broadened with brass, woodwinds and synthesizers. They are also joined by drummer Jim White of The Dirty Three. White’s free-jazz, avant playing is deeply perceptive of those he plays with, subtle yet transformative, as he so ably demonstrated in Xylouris White with Cretan instrumentalist George Xylouris. Joining them also is the experimental pedal steel player Susan Alcorn. We’re really looking forward to this one.
Lankum – Willow Garden
Taken from Between the Earth and the Sky (Rough Trade, 27 Oct 2017). In Thomas’ review he said this was: “a particularly brutal example of the murder ballad: in various versions, the victim is poisoned, stabbed, beaten and buried, and the murderer invariably hangs for his sins. In Lankum’s rendition, Radie Peat’s pained vocal performance – and the implication of the murderer’s father – gives the song a sense of uncertainty, a moral edge. This is a song that has been performed countless times before, by artists as diverse as Charlie Monroe, Ralph Stanley and Bon Iver, but rarely has it sounded this thrilling.”
Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker – Bathed in Light
From Seedlings All (Rough Trade, 23 March 2018), Josienne explains the background to the song, “As a performer, I’ve always been torn between my need for attention and my fear of how exposing it is, especially as a songwriter. In that 30 seconds before the first note when the audience is silent and the lights are on you, I’m gripped with nerves and I ask myself ‘why do you put yourself through this?’ This song is basically the narrative that runs through my head as I sweat and panic. I want it to go well, and my stage fright has always come from a fear that I’m not really made of strong enough stuff for a performing career but I’ve gone and wasted my life trying to do it and what else would I do and by the second or third note I love it…..”
Faeland – Chantress
From All My Swim (Green Sage Records, 20 January 2018). The coverage on FRUK of this new album by Bristol-based duo Rebecca Nelson and Jacob Morrison, better known as Faeland, should hopefully give you an idea of the high regard we have for them. In his review of the album noted how this song harks to balladry for a tale of feminine mystery with a rich, evocative poetry in the lyrics…
And as he slept he heard an ancient song and call
Within his bones were notes so sad and beautiful
An oak an ash a thorn a drum a hand a heart a song
Colliding memories of places he had never walked
Iona Fyfe – Guise of Tough
From Aberdeenshire folksinger Iona Fyfe‘s debut album Away from My Window (24 March) which features archive material of singers such as Stanley Robertson and Lizzie Higgins whilst drawing on the work of more recent song makers such as the late Michael Marra and Aidan Moffat. This track is a traditional song (from the singing of Jock Duncan).
The album premiered at a sold-out Celtic Connections performance featuring a larger ensemble. What’s so lovely about this album is that Iona is not being constrained by the tradition she knows so well – this represents her broadening style, a brave move for someone who has grown up within a strong tradition of unaccompanied ballad singing but also and an indication of a singer following her instincts. The inclusion of Aidan Moffat’s And So Must We Rest is a wonderful touch and I’m sure he’d be humbled by its appearance on her album (I was tempted to use it here but the tempo of Guise of Tough was just begging to fit in here). It reminded me of the relationship Aidan had with traditional singer Sheila Stewart which was captured so well Paul Fegan’s documentary. Maybe there’s some empathy here.
Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar – Line Two
The award-winning duo are back with a new album! Utopia and Wasteland is set for release on 13 April via RootBeat Records. Line Two is the opening track of the album and a fine example of their original songs…a modern-day protest folk song about the controversial £55.7 billion High Speed Two train line. Ciaran and Greg will be touring the album from 13-27 April. These two have intelligence, guts and brawn and they each play their political cards on the album, complemented by some very fine original tunes. Their talent just continues to mature and grow.
The Fretless – The Templehouse / Holy Land
Our man in Canada, David Morrison, was so taken by Bird’s Nest, the last album from Canadian foursome The Fretless that he selected it as one of his Top 10 albums of 2016. They’ve taken advantage of their ever-broadening recognition by releasing an instrumental album of tunes representing their traditional roots. Recorded live in a barn in upstate New York before a handful-sized audience assembled only a few feet away from the players, Live From The Artfarm (April 6th) is the raw result of this performance.
Blowzabella – Cé
Two Score is a new album and book of tunes from Blowzabella released to celebrate their 40 years. They’ve trodden their own path and placing their own stamp on the English folk tradition which is all the better for it. May there continue to be lots of dancing and plenty of drone instruments and most of all, a punk-like DIY ethic.
Michael McGoldrick – Five And Drive/View From The Reek
From ARC, produced by Donald Shaw and set for release on 6 April with an album launch (+ Big Band) at The Met, Bury on Saturday 12 May. We’ve waited a long time for this album, his first since 2010 and only his fifth in 22 years. These unhurried approaches do have advantages. Here McGoldrick set out to do something very different, and he manages to do so with style and panache. I’m not going to say anymore as we have more on this album and an upcoming interview.
Harp & a Monkey – Old Wives’ Tales
This is a new single from that loveable trio Harp and a Monkey to mark the tenth anniversary of their very first single released in April 2008. They have dusted off the master recording and will release a shiny new digital version on Friday, April 30.
Singer Martin Purdy said of the new single; “I can remember clearly the thinking behind putting out Old Wives’ Tales as our first release. In many ways, it was the perfect mission statement for what we wanted to do, and continue to want to do – mixing age-old themes and melodies with 21st-century sensibilities. The only thing that dates it is the video, as I was still smoking at the time but actually managed to give up the year after. We have really enjoyed reviving the song of late, but ‘the rollies’ have definitely been consigned to history”
Peter Knight & John Spiers – Waiting For The Federals
From Well Met released on 1st March and also one of our current Featured Albums of the Month. As Thomas said in the opening of his album review “When two of the most venerated figures in the recent history of folk music get together, there can be little doubt that the result will be something special.”
Of this tune he wrote: “Waiting For The Federals is more of a mongrel tune: versions have popped up from the Ozarks to Galway. This version begins with gently plucked fiddle strings while the melodeon carries the melody, then proceeds, languid and inscrutable, with both instruments taking turns to lead and the interplay becoming ever more expansive.” Read his full review here.
Thom Ashworth – High Germany
I’ve already treated listeners to Thom Ashworth’s stripped back approach to British traditional music, despite which it has an innovational cutting-edge feel. This is from his second EP Hollow and it’s a real joy to hear that tenor voice again and his take on the traditional High Germany is a great gem. Ashworth deserves a lot more exposure and I encourage you all to buy this EP via Bandcamp here and catch him on tour (including Sidmouth Folk Week, Leigh Folk Festival, Purbeck Valley Festival and more).
Torgeir Waldemar – Among the Low (Acoustic)
Norwegian singer and songwriter Torgeir Waldemar’s latest offering ‘Jamais Vu’ contains slices of sonic beauty – this is high-class music that certainly deserves a wider audience. Read David Pratt’s album review here.
Moore Moss Rutter – Hilly Fields / Blakeney Point
Another welcome return from three of England’s finest traditional musicians. III is set for release on 11 May via Hudson Records whose artist roster is beginning to look like the crown jewels of the folk world. Hard to believe they formed in 2009. They have pursued separate projects since their last outing and they sound all the richer for it. They most certainly are in the vanguard of the English instrumental folk music movement.
Jack Hayter – The Mulberry Tree At Abbey Wood
New from former Hefner and Dollboy alumnus and regular collaborator with Ralegh Long and Papernut Cambridge amongst others, Jack’s Abbey Wood album (23 March) has been slowly simmering itself on the Gare Du Nord stove and is now ready for a release – it’s a deeply absorbing set of city folk tales and haunting imagery based (though not exclusively) around a particularly characterful area of South East London. Jack’s trademark timeless voice and intricate, surreal arrangements paint a sometimes dark, always compelling picture………
You Are Wolf – George Collins
It was in 2011 that we featured a live session from award-winning composer and vocalist Kerry Andrew aka You Are Wolf. She released her debut album in 2014 ‘Hawk to the Hunting Gone’ which explored British Birds and folklore. Her new album KELD is released via Firecrest Records on 23 March.
Now working as a trio with multi-instrumentalist Sam Hall and percussionist Peter Ashwell, KELD – an old Northern English word meaning “the deep, still, smooth part of a river” – is an album that explores and develops the theme of freshwater. Wild swimming is a key passion and inspiration of hers, and she can often be found dipping into lochs, lakes, rivers and the sea in all weathers. Though there are countless traditional songs about the sea, there are less about our inland waterways, and Kerry decided to use this as a challenge: to source traditional material and write originals all inspired by freshwater folklore.
Karen Dalton – Ribbon Bow (Remastered)
From Sing and They’ll Sing Your Song, a new compilation on the Megaphone record label which was founded in 1997 in the wake of concert promoter Stéphane Bismuth’s matchmaking of Liverpool quartet Shack with west-coast legend Love’s Arthur Lee, after a 15-year hiatus in the latter’s career.
“The title of the compilation is a quote from Alan Price’s ‘Poor People’ covered here for the first time ever to the best of our knowledge. It reflects the number of covers that made their way to the compilation and the label’s belief that covers have been discarded too hastily since the 60s, as Karen Dalton’s oblivion sadly exemplifies.”
“Shortly after the Michael Head & The Strands album, I took advantage of the burgeoning internet to scavenge for anything relating to another elusive legend, the Greenwich Village master, Fred Neil. I stumbled upon a rare statement he’d made, praising his singer friend, Karen Dalton who had died in obscurity in 1993. After endless plays of her 1969 album on my Walkman, I saw the opportunity for a long overdue reissue of this first and penultimate record of hers ‘It’s So Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best’. The song that struck me most was ‘Ribbon Bow’, recorded by Karen many years before in 1963, for her Colorado friend and neighbour, Joe Loop. Joe gave me credit for her late recognition and entrusted me with a further, never hoped-for, 127 minutes of her music: ‘The Loop Tapes’ released in 2007 and 2008; the home tapes of ‘Green Rocky Road’ and the double live album ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’.” http://www.megaphone-music.com/v-a-sing-and-theyll-sing-your-song/
The Gloaming – The Pilgrim’s Song
Live at the NCH (Released 2nd March on Real World), a live album recorded at the beautiful concert hall which has become their home from home. With two studio albums behind them – The Gloaming (2014) and The Gloaming 2 (2016), this is the perfect time to introduce a live album into the collection. To put Live at the NCH together Thomas Bartlett, the band’s producer, sifted through two years of performances and settled on six tracks: “The Booley House”, “Cucanandy”, “The Sailor’s Bonnet”, “The Pilgrim’s Song”, “The Rolling Wave” and “Fáinleog”. Using the studio recordings only as points of departure, these performances stretch out and roam in unexpected new directions, incorporating new tunes and rearranging old ones, filled with the excitement and delight of five master musicians coming together as one.