Alt-folk singer and composer, Ana Silvera is set to release her sophomore album Oracles on 6th July via Gearbox Records. Oracles was previously conceived as a commission from the London Roundhouse for a performance alongside Imogen Heap, the Estonian Television Girls’ Choir and the Roundhouse Experimental Choir, which earned Ana a nomination for a British Composers Award. She then later returned to the Roundhouse Theatre Studio to record this, her second LP, alongside guest musicians such as Bill Laurance (Snarky Puppy), Jasper Høiby (Phronesis), Jacob Smedegaard (Fiction, Beth Jeans Houghton) and more.
The result is a haunting yet life-affirming collection of songs, which were written as a response to losing two close members of her family very suddenly. The lyrics tackle grieving, understanding and acceptance through folk legends, and Ana’s dynamic vocal style mimics this with the delicate yet theatrical prowess of Kate Bush
Listen to Circle of Chalk below and read about the song in Ana’s own words.
“The ‘circle of chalk’ in this song refers to the kind drawn in ritual magic, marking out a sacred space in which to cast spells – in this case, the spell of seduction. This song is about the thrilling early stages of romantic attraction, and the kind of magical thinking and hoping that accompanies that feeling of uncertainty. In this sense, the lover who appears here is the ‘prey’ of the hunter who narrated the previous song and represents one possible clue on the quest for peace. The ‘test’ of the title – to choose between copper, silver and precious stones (or gold) – is a classic fairy-tale trope from The Tinderbox to The Grimm Brother’s ‘All-Kinds-of-Fur’ in which a king must weave three dresses, ‘one as golden as the sun, one as silver as the moon, and one that glistens like the stars’. I wanted the opening bars in ‘Circle of Chalk’ to begin sparsely with just voices, percussion and clapping, setting the tune up with a tribal, call-and-response motif. I had the sense that the ritual invoked is kind of a clandestine communion with the natural world and with the self: ‘I went down to the river but the river wasn’t one that you would know…I drew my face to the river and I shivered that the devil’s face would show’. The arrangement develops to incorporate the whole band and choir, and builds to the chorus whose final lyric: ‘I wasn’t meant for this life at all, but you make me want to do’. I see these words as marking the beginning of a sea change from the previous three songs which contend in different ways with death, to an emerging lust for life – like the ‘first stems of April’ breaking through the thawing earth.”