Acclaimed singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier will release her most important work to date with Rifles & Rosary Beads on January 26th, 2018 via Proper Records. Co-written with U.S. veterans and their families, the eleven deeply personal songs on this album reveal the untold stories, and powerful struggles that these veterans and their spouses deal with abroad and after returning home.
Each year it is estimated that over 7400 current and former members of the United States Armed Services take their own lives. While these songs were written with US Veterans, Soldiers in the UK are dealing with the exact same problems. The songs featured on Rifles & Rosary Beads were all co-written as part of Songwriting With Soldiers, a non-profit programme that facilitates retreats bringing professional songwriters together with wounded veterans and active duty military. Participants have shared that the experience of songwriting was life-changing for them, some even said life-saving.
No stranger to pain or demons herself, Gauthier has used songwriting to work through addiction and childhood abandonment as an orphan. This is the first album where she has focused solely on experiences other than her own. The songs on Rifles & Rosary Beads tackle a variety of viewpoints. “The War After The War” deals with the strain put on a relationship while living with someone who has returned from serving, while “Iraq” depicts the helpless horror of a female military mechanic being dehumanized and sexually harassed by fellow soldiers. The gorgeous album highlight “Bullet Holes In The Sky” is a bittersweet reflection on the mixed emotions of being a veteran.
Mary Gauthier is helping veterans share experiences that only they can understand, in a way that we as listeners can relate to. This process not only has the power to touch others but also to help soldiers take a step towards healing, while at the same time creating beautiful art.
Mary Gauthier has received countless critical accolades over the last decade and a half for her seven studio albums and captivating live performances. Her previous album Trouble & Love was praised by the press, including glowing coverage from outlets including Mojo, Uncut, Financial Times, Sun, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, NPR Music, Huffington Post, American Songwriter and many more.
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 Mary Gauthier – Rifles and Rosary Beads link 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.
Almost exactly seven years have passed since Show of Hands last appeared before an audience at Wells Cathedral; an interval of time that many would conclude has seen the world become an ever-more uncertain and unpredictable place. In these days when the news amounts to a cavalcade of increasingly unsettling events its reassuring that some cherished institutions remain steadfast and dependable, enshrining values that continues to inspire. As part of the fittingly titled ‘Sanctuary’ tour it was a joy to see two much revered institutions reunite – musical act and sacred building – each casting the other in new and unexpected light.
The first member of Show of Hands to appear before tonight’s audience – a congregation comprising the band’s staunchly loyal audience and the cathedral’s parishioners – was Phil Beer. Illuminated at the altar, Beer introduced the evenings supporting artist, Kirsty Merryn. His warm words of praise were swiftly borne out by a distinctive set, most notable for Merryn’s liquid clear voice cascading over the deft piano runs of her original compositions. Many of the songs, drawn from Merryn’s debut album, ‘She and I‘ provided a fresh perspective on the achievements of esteemed female figures from history including Jane Austen and Grace Darling. As ever, Show of Hands had picked an artist to accompany them on this tour of cathedrals who genuinely was the ‘special guest’ of the evening rather than a mere supporting artist.
When, after the interval, the band appeared it was, as is so often the case, without any grand gesture or musical fanfare. Instead the performance began with the solitary figure of Steve Knightley walking down the cathedral’s central aisle as he gently intoned the words of ‘The Old Lych Way’, a composition by Topsham songwriter and musician, Chris Hoban. The song focuses on a longer and yet more ancient route that traverses a remote stretch of Dartmoor along which the faithful would bear the deceased to a final resting place at Lydford Church. A suitably contemplative and mystic atmosphere was conjured beneath the Cathedral’s hallowed arches, setting the tone for much of what was to follow. Next came ‘The Preacher’ from 1995 album ‘The Lie of the Land’, a song in which the prayers of a lonesome island-dwelling cleric lead to guilt and self-recrimination.
While some of Show of Hands best loved numbers were absent from this evening’s performance – there was to be no regaling of ‘Cousin Jack’ – this was entirely fitting since the set list had clearly been compiled to highlight the spiritual questing evident in so much of Show of Hands’ material. Phil Beer, a more vocal presence during this evening’s show than is often the case, offered an exquisite rendition of Sydney Carter’s masterpiece ‘The Crow on the Cradle’, a song that focuses on the power of mankind to avoid the horrors of war.
Throughout the evening Show of Hands’ stunning music was complemented by equally impressive lighting effects. The St. Andrew’s Cross, an enormous arched structure that occupies the east end of the nave was often spectacularly lit while the carved stone work that lies immediately behind it was frequently illuminated to produce a striking contrast. As Steve Knightley himself pointed out, the band’s music became in this context just one element of the experience. Perhaps the lighting was at its most dramatic during a rendition of ‘Innocent’s Song’, the words of Cornish poet, Charles Causley set to music. As the song was performed the massive stone backdrop was bathed in red – powerfully representing the blood of the innocents murdered by the biblical King Herod. Another highlight was Phil Beer’s tune ‘Gwithian’, the music’s urgent fiddle-driven rhythm increasingly intensified by the hand claps of an enraptured audience.
At intervals throughout the evening Show of Hands were joined by the Dartmoor Folk Choir whose contributions highlighted the anthemic quality of many of the songs while providing an apt accompaniment for performance in a cathedral. Also present at times to further embellish the music with accordion was Chris Hoban, who Knightley commended as a songwriter who “sometimes writes better songs than me”. When at an earlier point in the evening Show of Hands double-bassist Miranda Sykes, sang a captivating version of Hoban’s song ‘The Lilly and the Rose’ it was difficult not to agree.
The great care evident in the content of this evening’s show in terms of the songs chosen, guest musicians and lighting design all served to elevate Show of Hands’ performance far beyond the ordinary infamous while reconfirming the outstanding quality of so much of their material. An inspiring evening indeed.
Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys have been wowing audiences at festivals across the UK this summer – turning traditional songs on their head, swerving into rock territory and nudging the mainstream.
Now the high energy, hot property line-up are bringing the ‘Wow’ factor indoors at venues across England this November/December.
The band who also recently went down a storm at Portugal’s Costa del Folk and Denmark’s famous Tonder Festival will be showcasing their highly acclaimed new album Pretty Peggy on a 9-date tour between Nov 27-Dec 7.
The tour will take in seven counties and a London date at the Camden home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society – Cecil Sharp House on Wednesday,November 29. Tickets, price £14, available on 020 7485 2206 or via www.cecilsharphouse.org. The performance takes place in the refurbished Kennedy Hall.
At just 24, the ‘pushing the envelope’ singer songwriter has had no trouble setting the roots world alight. Just three years after releasing his first EP, Norfolk-born, Bristol-based Kelly scooped the coveted 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards “Horizon” title, which recognises the best emerging talent.
On the recent Pretty Peggy album release he is joined by his regular touring and festival band – banjo genius Jamie Francis;Ciaran Algar on fiddle/tenor guitar; Evan Carson on percussion, Graham Coe (cello), Toby Shaer (woodwind) and Archie Churchill-Moss on melodeon.
Kelly, who says he owes much of his musical inspiration to his late Irish grandfather, is known as a former Britain’s Got Talent finalist (“a massive whirlwind experience”) when he was just 19. It’s part of his colourful story but that story has moved on in leaps and bounds, making him one of the most exciting young performers on the circuit.
Playing guitars, bouzouki and mandolin he undoubtedly has instrumental prowess but it’s the effortless soft-edged, stand-out voice that has fast tracked him to the top tier of the scene whether in his trio with Francis and Carson, in Cornish band The Changing Room band or spearheading his own Lost Boys.
Trawling old songs and tunes for the innovative Pretty Peggy album, Kelly found some gems to refashion along with a Bob Dylan cover and his own song Chasing Shadows
Accolades have come thick and fast from the media with the Morning Star saying “Folk hasn’t rocked this hard since Fairport’s heyday” and broadcaster Mike Harding saying “If this album doesn’t feature in several nominations for Folk Awards this year there’s something seriously wrong”.
Pretty Peggy is released on the Navigator label and distributed by Proper Music.
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 Sam Kelly – Pretty Peggy link 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.
One of today’s most respected folk groups, The Wailin’ Jennys are releasing their first new recording in six years, Fifteen. This long-awaited follow-up to Bright Morning Stars finds the trio bringing their passion and stellar musicianship to a carefully curated collection of some of their favourite songs, including tracks by Tom Petty, Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton. For members Nicky Mehta, Ruth Moody and Heather Masse, Fifteen celebrates a 15-year musical partnership that has created three award-winning, Billboard-charting studio albums and one magical live recording and brought them a loyal worldwide fanbase.
Steeped in the artistry and elegance that has defined their career, Fifteen presents The Wailin’ Jennys at their very best. Opening with their stark yet exquisite rendering of ‘Old Churchyard’, sung a cappella over a single droning viola tone, the album then shifts to a gorgeous full-band acoustic version of Tom Petty’s ‘Wildflowers’. Other highlights include their moving interpretation of Emmylou Harris’ ‘Boulder to Birmingham’, their update of Paul Simon’s ‘Loves Me Like a Rock’ (from a women’s point of view) and songs by Jane Siberry, Warren Zevon and Patty Griffin. They also do an achingly beautiful a cappella version of Dolly Parton’s ‘Light of a Clear Blue Morning’ that resonates as a call to hope in these troubled political times.
All three of the Jennys now have young children and – coupled with living in two countries and different sides of the North American continent – making the time to record has been a challenge.
“We are all mothers now, living in different cities, so we knew we couldn’t spend a month in the studio the way we used to”, Moody says. “Nicky and Heather could only be away from their boys for a week, which gave us five days! So we decided to do something that was true to our live show. Arranging other people’s songs has been something we’ve enjoyed doing since the beginning, so we thought that a covers album would be fun to do, especially given the time restraints. Even so, it was a little nuts. We were arranging harmonies on the fly… my son was just shy of three months old and I was feeding him every couple of hours… Nicky had a bad cold which made things tricky for her. But we just went with it, and trusted that it would all work out; maybe that’s the thing we’ve gotten better at as mothers.”
Produced by The Wailin’ Jennys and engineered by Joby Baker, the album also features additional musicians Richard Moody (Ruth’s brother), Sam Howard, Adrian Dolan and Adam Dobres.
NPR wrote of their last Newport Folk Fest appearance, “The Wailin’ Jennys are more than just impeccable bluegrass harmonizers; they’re also terrific bandleaders who give their traditional roots music a sense of real reverence.” It’s this respect for their craft, as well as the Wailin’ Jennys heartfelt, impeccable vocal performances, that has cemented the trio’s reputation in folk and roots music circles.
Starting as a happy accident of solo singer-songwriters getting together for a one-time-only performance at a tiny guitar shop in Winnipeg, Manitoba, The Wailin’ Jennys have earned their place as one of today’s most beloved international folk groups. Founding members Ruth Moody and Nicky Mehta, along with New York-based Heather Masse, continue to create some of the most exciting and exquisite music on the folk-roots scene, stepping up their musical game with each critically-lauded recording and thrilling audiences with their renowned live performances.
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 THE WAILIN’ JENNYS – FIFTEEN link 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.
ORDER – [CD]
The Wailin’ Jennys – Fifteen – Track by Track
Some of the covers are songs we’ve had arranged for a while but haven’t had the chance to record. The others were brought to the mix for this record. They are all songs that are close to our heart for one reason or another or that feel appropriate for the times.
Old Churchyard – This is an English traditional song, evocative and otherworldly, as traditional music often is. Waterson-Carthy did a version that is very spirited, almost like a march. We took a more gentle approach.
Wildflowers – We’ve been singing this Tom Petty song for a few years and a lot of fans have asked us to record it, so we finally did. It’s just a great song, and it feels really good to sing it.
The Valley – We all think this is the most beautiful song. It is deep and compassionate…a spiritual anthem, with a touch of Jane Siberry eccentricity. Nicky brought this one to the band and suggested we trade off lead vocals. The boys dug deep in their performance. Richy added some gorgeous string parts. It was one of those things that just came together magically.
Light of a Clear Blue Morning – We were asked to arrange this song for an independent Canadian film called ‘The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom’, which featured Dolly’s music and received her stamp of approval. What can we say – we love Dolly, and this is a mammoth of a song, so we were honoured to do so.
Loves Me Like a Rock – Heather thought this would be fun to do with the Jennys, and she was right. We tend to gravitate towards the serious, so it’s good for us to lighten up once and a while. It’s a feel-good Paul Simon classic that feels ever appropriate.
Boulder to Birmingham – I have loved this song for as long as I’ve loved songs – it’s such a poignant and heartbreaking tribute to a lost love. The fact that Emmylou wrote it after Gram Parson’s death makes it all the more meaningful. I’ve always wanted to try it with the Jennys but the melody really weaves around, which can be challenging for creating harmonies. I love what we ended up with. The high part in particular ventures way out of Nicky’s normal range, but she nailed it. This was another one that felt magical when it was going down – we performed it a few times, but in the end we chose the first take.
Not Alone – Penned by the magnificent Patty Griffin and suggested by Heather, Not Alone is a tragic rendering of a life lost suddenly and a loved one left behind. Despite the gravity of the tale, it carries with it a message of deep hope and love. The haunting strains of Richard’s viola and Adam’s electric guitar make this song cut straight to the bone.
Keep Me in Your Heart – Warren Zevon wrote this song at the end of his life after battling cancer. It’s a beautiful sentiment – a piece of himself left for his family and friends, and the rest of us! Richy, Sam and Adam came up with a beautiful string arrangement in the studio and we think it really made the song come to life.
Weary Blues From Waitin’ – This Hank Williams song was one of the first songs the three of us sang together, the night we met Heather at The World Cafe in Philadelphia. We wanted to see how our voices blended, so we ducked into a public bathroom, locked the door, and sang a few songs. I’m pretty sure we asked her to join the band right then and there.
folking.com brings you the latest podcast from that aficionado of Irish music, yes you guessed it, the one and only Mr. Alan O’Leary with his regular monthly instalment of Copperplate goodies.
Click the play button below to listen to the show.
1. Paddy Glackin: Top It Off. Glackin 2. Noel Hill & Tony MacMahon: The Humours of Castklefinn.Knock na Gree 3. John Wynne & John McEvoy: Pride of the West/Kilglass Lakes . Pride of the West 4. Gatehouse: Come With Me Over The Mountain. Gatehouse Gerry O’Connor : The Bag of Spuds/Copperplate Reel. No Place Like Home
5. Peter McAlinden: Happy To Meet/Paddy Taylor’s Jig.Happy to Meet 6. Mick & Aoife O’Brien & Emer Mayock: Miss Monaghan’s/Neil Gow’s 2nd Wife/Lucy Campbell. Tunes from the Goodman Manuscripts 7. Dan Bruder & Angelina Carberry : Hornpipe 534/Over The Hill/HP 778: A Waltz for Joy 8. Sean Tyrrell: Skies Over Ballyroan. And So It Goes 9. Tommy Guihen:Bellharbour Reel/Piper’s Despair/Boys of Dublin. The Torn Jacket 10. Johnny Og Connolly & Brian McGrath: The Happy HP/Souvenier HP. Dreaming Up The Tunes 11. The Drunken Gaugers:Padrag O’Keeffe’s/The Broken Windscreen/The Sailor s Cravat. The Drunken Gaugers 12. Eilis Kenedy: Pe in Eirinn I. Westward
Gatehouse: Joe Ryan’s Mazurka/Buckley’s Fancy/The Laurel Tree. Gatehouse 13. Micheal O’Raghallaigh: Duke of Leinster/The Old Bush/Spike Island Lasses.
Mavis Staples has again joined forces with songwriter-producer Jeff Tweedy for a new album entitled If All I Was Was Black, out this November 17th.
The history Mavis recalls from her early years touring with her family as The Staple Singers, the prejudice, ugliness and danger, well it’s all still here. In response, the singer has delivered If All I Was Was Black, ten songs about contemporary America today, a present day filled with ghosts of the past. “Nothing has changed,” Mavis remarked in early August, just days before neo-Nazis marched with swastika flags in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a young woman was murdered. “We are still in it.”
If All I Was Was Black is Mavis’ third collaboration with songwriter and producer (and Wilco frontman) Jeff Tweedy. Their first partnership in 2010, You Are Not Alone, won a Grammy Award for Best Americana album. Their second effort together, One True Vine, was a Grammy nominee. But If All I Was Was Black marks the first time Tweedy has composed an entire album of original songs for Mavis’ legendary voice and a nation she’s uniquely poised to address.
In the wake of the current race-baiting and rhetoric of exclusion appearing not just on the streets, but issuing from statehouses and even the White House, Mavis and Tweedy found themselves completely in sync and wanting to say something about the fissures dividing the country. “We’re not loving one another the way we should,” Mavis confided, as if sharing the secret to happiness, or something better. “Some people are saying they want to make the world great again, but we never lost our greatness. We just strayed into division.”
Explaining why he decided to tackle the state of the union, Tweedy said, “I’ve always thought of art as a political statement in and of itself—that it was enough to be on the side of creation and not destruction. But there is something that feels complicit at this moment in time about not facing what is happening in this country head on.”
The lyrics are occasionally shot through with anger. “I have a mind to bury them whole, when they go low,” Mavis sings on “We Go High.” “There’s evil in the world, and there’s evil in me” opens the first verse of “Try Harder.” “Oh, they lie, and they show no shame” adds a harsh undercurrent to “Who Told You That,” an anthem against accepting the status quo. Unsettling musical elements wind their way through the record, too, from the abrasive guitar distortion of “Try Harder” to a descending bass line that signals danger on “Little Bit.”
Despite all this, the mood ring on Mavis’ 2017 outing is set to love, which runs through and over the fury and despair. The songs move less like a hammer and more like the tide, with Mavis countering the anger with an eye toward the work that is required to bring change. She is singing the world as it is, but also a way forward. Mavis is sure that the answer is to lift each other up. She’s not embracing the anxious hesitation of respectability politics but the possibilities of love.
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 Mavis Staples – If All I Was Was Black link 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.