SUNJAY – Black & Blues (own label SLCD01501)

Black & BluesIt’s a testament to the appeal of these songs that a young man such as Sunjay Brayne finds his spiritual, or at least musical, home amongst them.

Black & Blues is Sunjay’s fourth album, this one recorded completely solo in one day by Eddy Morton. Much of the material will be familiar although the energetic opener, ‘Drop Down Mama’, was new to me and I haven’t heard ‘You Don’t Learn That In School’ that often despite its history with Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole. The familiarity is part of the charm, of course. ‘Duncan & Brady’ is a classic tale of murder that never tires and ‘Pallet On The Floor’ is one of those easy-going blues songs in which the singer seems oddly content with his lot.

‘Baby, Please Don’t Go’ is another old song that enjoys periodic revivals. Big Joe Williams first laid claim to it and since then it has been recorded by everyone from The Orioles to Them and AC/DC. Sunjay takes it back to basics but he can’t resist adding a second guitar part which echoes the song’s later incarnation as a rock classic.

Sunjay is a young man with a young man’s voice yet to acquire the gruffness and world-weariness of someone who has been there, done that but could never afford the T-shirt. His dynamism and enthusiasm for the music together with his technical skill as a guitarist more than compensates.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: www.sunjay.tv

Sunjay’s Introducing session:

Eleanor McEvoy – Naked Music album and exhibition

Naked Music

Released on Friday, 5th February 2016, Naked Music is the title of Irish star Eleanor McEvoy’s new album, recorded alone in the studio to create an intimate collection of her music at its most raw – one instrument, one voice, performed live.

Best known for her songs Sophie and the Irish standard ‘Only A Woman’s Heart’, Eleanor’s new album features exclusive artwork by the famed painter Chris Gollon. The album will be first heard at the sold-out opening of Chris’s Exhibition in Gallery Different in London on the 28th January, 2016.

The seeds for Eleanor and Chris’ artist collaboration were sown after Eleanor bought Chris’ painting ‘Champagne Sheila’ after spotting it in a London gallery. Before leaving, Eleanor left some of her music for Chris and his agent to listen to.

Cut to Norwich in February 2015 and Chris Gollon’s national touring exhibition “Incarnation, Mary and Women from the Bible” in the beautiful Norman Cathedral has just opened with the artist in attendance. Eleanor visits the exhibition, lunches with Chris and David and squeezes them both into her sold-out ‘Alone’ club show at the city’s The Bicycle Shop venue. The outcome: heaps of chat, mutual respect and admiration and a wish to find some way of working together.

Eleanor was, at the time, finishing some recording where she was “studio-performing”, playing hers and others’ songs as she might at her solo shows. The recordings have a very exposed intimacy, so it seemed a possibility that Chris should be asked to do a painting for the cover in this solitary context.

As a body of work, Eleanor’s recordings acquired the name Naked Music, which would give a better focus to the two artists’ desire for mutual expression. Being offered this title, and with some song suggestions, Chris was so taken with the songs he completed four paintings in response –  two on the ‘Naked’ theme, and two others related to song titles and lyrics. The first ‘Dreaming of Leaving’ was written by Eleanor and Lloyd Cole. The other ‘Lubbock Woman’, a downtrodden cameo, is a song by West Texan legend Terry Allen. The paintings were such a hit, that all four talked their way into the Naked Music CD artwork.

The images, the CD artwork, sat in pride of place in the Metropolis Studio and exerted some influence on the mastering and final track order.

Now there is going to be a full Chris Gollon exhibition on the theme of  Naked Music, with his latest series of paintings inspired by all the new album tracks by Eleanor McEvoy, some co-written with Dave Rotheray (from The Beautiful South), Lloyd Cole and Nat Johnson. Visitors can come and experience the new Eleanor McEvoy album and the new Chris Gollon imagery side-by-side.

The exhibition at Gallery Different (in association with IAP Fine Art) will run for three weeks from 25th January, 2016. Having performed at the opening, Eleanor will be touring England and Wales.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist’s website: http://www.eleanormcevoy.com/

Ahoy Hoy – Boreas release debut album

Ahoy Hoy
Photograph by Louise Bichan

AHOY HOY is the eagerly awaited debut album from Boreas, shaped by spanning the expanses of the North Sea. In this recording the band have created something both warm and sparse, shadowy and glistening, simple and intricate, it is indeed a glorious debut.

An enchanting musical union between Scotland and Norway, Boreas began as a collaboration between Lori Watson from the Scottish Borders and Britt Pernille Frøholm from Hornindal in Sogn og Fjordane. Lori and Britt are joined by award winning accordionist Irene Tillung from Voss and Rachel Newton from Edinburgh. Together, Boreas have a passion for new and experimental forms of traditional music creating a unique expression based on Norwegian and Scottish folk music. Boreas seek to emphasize old traditions and shared musical aspects, while exploring the spaces between their different yet connected cultures.

Britt Pernille Frøholm (Hardanger/fiddle) has released several albums and frequently works across genres including solo traditional music on Hardanger fiddle (National Champion 2014), folk bands, electroacoustic compositions, collaboration with contemporary composers and free-improvising big band.

Lori Watson (fiddle, voice) is the first doctor of Artistic Research in Scottish Music having completed her PhD in contemporary Traditional music practice. She has released several critically acclaimed albums under her own name and with trio Rule of Three. Her songwriting and compositions explore tradition and innovation, and she is in demand as an educator in Higher Education, and youth music.

Irene Tillung (accordion) is a versatile musician with a background in both classical/contemporary and traditional music. She has released several award winning albums with her groups Tindra, Maar and Frøholm/Tillung. Collaborating with Polish trio Kroke, she has toured widely following the release of a live album in 2010. Irene has composed several commissioned works, one of them for Førde Folk Music Festival in 2009.

Rachel Newton (Scottish harp, voice, electroharp) is a singer and harpist, regularly touring with her own trio, The Shee, The Furrow Collective and the Emily Portman Trio. Rachel has also performed with Karine Polwart, Blue Rose Code and The Elizabethan Session among many others. Her solo albums The Shadowside (2012) and Changeling (2014) earned her much critical acclaim including nominations for Album of the Year and Instrumentalist of the Year in the Scots Trad Music Awards.

Artists’ website: http://www.boreasband.com/

Breabach’s new album is on the way

Breabach's new album is on the way

Release Date Friday, 11th March, 2016

Voted ‘Best Live Act 2013’ & ’Best Folk Band 2012‘ at the Scots Trad Music Awards and twice nominated ‘Best Band’ at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards; Scottish five-piece Breabach deliver a thrilling and unique brand of contemporary folk music that has earned them international recognition on the world and roots music scene as one of the UK’s most dynamic and exciting bands.

After a whirlwind five years traversing the globe, touring Australia, New Zealand, Asia, North America, Scandinavia and the middle East, Breabach are delighted to announce their fifth studio album Astar (translating from Scottish Gaelic as distance or journey). The music on the album takes inspiration from the beauty of both the places and people the band have visited and the wonderful musicians and cultures encountered along the way. Working with producer Greg Lawson (Moishes Bagel, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, GRIT Orchestra) the band have taken melodic, rhythmic and harmonic ideas from each of the countries they have visited. Some of this is woven into the arrangement, some of this is achieved through self-penned works. Through it all however, it’s their Scottish roots that remain at the core of the recording with work from Burns, Dick Gaughan and Donald Macleod finding it’s way into the mix. Augmenting the album will be some special guests including Yidaki player Mark Atkins (AUS), extraordinary Aborigine artist Yirrmal of Black Arm Band (AUS) Maori tradition bearer Scott Morrison (NZ), Quebecois violinist Olivier Demers of Le Vent Du Nord (Quebec) and Hardanger virtuoso Olav Luksengård Mjelva of Nordic Fiddlers Bloc (NO).

Breabach unite the talent of Calum MacCrimmon (pipes/whistles/bouzouki/vocals), Ewan Robertson (guitar/ vocals), James Mackenzie (pipes/flute/whistles), Megan Henderson (fiddle/vocals/stepdance) and James Lindsay (double bass). Since launching their career as winners of the Open Stage Award at Celtic Connections in 2005 the band have steadily moved from strength to strength, picking up accolades and performing at esteemed events along the way. The 2016 release of Astar sees them reaching new levels of their musical ambition and maturity.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ website: www.breabach.com

 

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Songs of Separation (Navigator NAVIGATOR094P)

Songs of SeparationAn ambitious project, this is the brainchild of double-bassist Jenny Hill who, in the period running up to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, found herself frequently on the road away from her Scottish home. As such, and being English, she was struck by the different messages being directed at and from the two nations and decided to address the notion of separation through a musical project. Recruiting Eliza Carthy, Hannah James, Hannah Read, Hazel Askew, Jenn Butterworth, Karine Polwart, Kate Young, Mary Macmaster and Rowan Rheingans, a posse of female folkies from both Scotland and England, they holed up on Isle of Eigg last June to write, rehearse and record (in just six days) what would eventually become this album, its theme of separation embracing the personal, political, social and cultural as well as touching on matters of family, gender, communication, supernatural, home, work, identity and the land.

Polwart taking the lead vocal, it opens with a reading of the traditional number, ‘Echo Mocks The Corncrake’, an appropriate choice given that Eigg is one of this migratory bird’s remaining habitats, its distinctive call introducing the track and echoed in the percussive beats, the lyrics about the separation of two lovers serving as a metaphor for the rural depopulation of the Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s a robust treatment involving harp, scraping strings bass, double bass and a rousing wordless vocal refrain.

The album continues in traditional mode with Read’s bluegrass-tinged arrangement of Burns’ ‘It Was A’ For Our Rightfu’ King’, a gently yearning melody picked out her acoustic guitar and completed by harp and banjo, followed by the equality and love themed ‘The Poor Man’s Lamentation’ with its urgent rhythm, swirling violins and a capella ending. Further birdsong and the sound of a storm heralds the wholly massed a capella lament ‘Sad The Climbing’ (or, since it’s sung in Gaelic, ‘Trom An Direadh’), recorded live, like the album’s other a capella number, ‘Unst Boat Song’, in Eigg’s acoustically striking Cathedral Cave, itself not far from the site of a 1577 massacre of the MacDonald population by the MacLeods of Harris upon which the lyrics treat.

Driven by choppy percussive arrangement and gathering to a chanted climax, things remain in Scottish Gaelic for the near six-minute ‘Muladach Mi ‘s Mi Air M’aineoil’ (‘Sad Am I And In A Strange Place’), a call-and-response waulking song about a woman and her two daughters being separated from their people and their home.

In contrast to the bulk of the album, ‘Cleaning The Stones’ is an original number (a fish’s love song) penned by Eliza Carthy. Opening with a chamber folk arrangement, it waltzes dreamily on wings of plucked strings and harp arpeggios like something from the music halls. A little more birdsong, and it’s a journey way back in time and to the far reaches of the Shetlands for ‘Unst Boat Song’, a prayer for the safe return of fisherman sung on the original Norn with Polwart taking lead.

Sung by Hazel Askew with the others providing harmonies, the lullabying music hall tune of ‘London Lights’ may be more familiar as ‘Just Before The Battle Mother’, an American Civil War song written by George Root, the lyrics here about the destitution fate of abandoned single mothers. Heading into the final stretch, the harp shimmering ballad ‘Sea King’ is a handclap backed intricate setting by Kate Young of a poem by 19th century Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger, a variation on the selkie myth about a woman who, years after being transformed into a mermaid, returns to shore, human again, only to find she has now has no home on either land and the sea.

Lady Maisery’s Rowan Rheingans steps up for another original, the strings-swathed ‘Soil And Soul’, a song inspired by both the hills known as The Old Woman of the Moors on the Isle of Lewis and the translation of the Gaelic for Eigg, The Island of the Big Women (a reference to the 7th century female Pict warriors sent to rid the island of Christianity-peddling monks), while the title (and the theme) stems from a book by Scottish environmental campaigner Alastair McIntosh.

Concerned with separation and loss as a result of conflict, personal or otherwise, ‘Over The Border’ weaves together a number of traditional tunes and a collective original, among them ‘The Flowers of Knaresborough Forest’, ‘Blue Bonnets Over the Border’ and pipe lament ‘The Floo’ers of The Forest’, plucked harp and Indian harmonium drone giving way to shared vocals by Polwart and Carthy before the ensemble joins in and violins, guitars and percussion lift the tempo for a rousing dance reel and the optimistic refrain of ‘the gates and the borders will all fade away’.

Finally, Robert Frost’s classic poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ provides the inspiration for’ Rheingans’ ‘Road Less Travelled’, her vocals joined by Polwart and Young (who also lent a lyric hand) on an suitably banjo-dappled accompaniment behind which, recorded in the open air, birds trill and the wind blows as they exhort “lay your cares and troubles down” and “sing your own way home”.

There’s no better way to end this than by quoting Hill’s words in the booklet:

Songs of Separation is an ‘SoS’, reminding us that this connection between people, and between people and place, is the key to overcoming the challenges we face, both in our communities and in this fragile world of which we are temporary custodians.” Come together, right now.

Mike Davies

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Website: http://www.songsofseparation.co.uk/

Cathedral Cove:

Rachel Hamer Band record debut album

Rachel Hamer Band record debut album EFDSS Grace Smith Graeme Armstrong Graeme Miles Martyn Wyndham-Read Mike Nicholson Rachel Hamer Rachel Hamer Band Robin Dale Sam Partridge The Keelers The Unthanks The Wilsons The Young'uns

A Newcastle folk band with strong links to Teesside is set to record its first album, thanks to a bursary in memory of one of the North East’s most acclaimed songwriters.

The Rachel Hamer Band has been named as the latest recipient of the award made by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and the award winning band The Unthanks in memory of Middlesbrough songwriter Graeme Miles who died in 2013.

This is the second memorial bursary, worth £1,200, to be given. The scheme is administered by EFDSS and supported by The Unthanks through fundraising concerts.
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