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Glen Hansard – new album and European tour dates

Glen Hansard
Photograph by Stephan Vanfleteren

Those who have followed Glen Hansard’s career since his Academy Award winning turn in the film Once will have witnessed one artistic arc: the journey of a Dublin busker who cut his teeth on the greats – Dylan, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen – and followed the path of the troubadour to great effect. But there is another thread running through Hansard’s musicianship; in his decades as lead singer of Irish stalwarts The Frames, rock and folk ambitions coexisted with moments of strangeness, intimacy, and stillness.

Today, Hansard announces This Wild Willing, his fourth full-length album and a collection of songs that follows this second path, where he marries the sonic inventiveness of the best of his work in The Frames with the discipline he’s found as a songwriter and lyricist in his solo career.

Lead track ‘I’ll Be You, Be Me’ finds Hansard weighing the risks of such vulnerability, his restrained vocal masking the fury of the underlying instrumental’s building storm, and to which Hansard advises “on first listen, please turn it up loud in your head phones!”

“I’ll be you, be me and I’ll be you/I’ll take your truth, your lies, your secrets,” he sings, negotiating the consuming potential of desire. There is danger here, but it is without rancor or ill-will – the danger of a hare with its belly exposed. There is also a duality in the invitation: the audience is drawn in just as surely as the song’s object to the immersive world conjured by the album.

This Wild Willing was conceived in Paris and recorded at the French Black Box studios with producer David Odlum and a core group of musicians that includes classically-trained Iranian musicians the Khoshravesh brothers, long-time Hansard associates Joe Doyle (bass) and ROMY (piano, vocals, string arrangements), and Dublin electronic musicians Deasy and Dunk Murphy (Sunken Foal). The album is grounded in a spirit of openness to invention and experimentation.

“This collection of songs is mainly made up of those that came through while improvising and following the melodic lines and threads. Sometimes when you take a small musical fragment and you care for it, follow it and build it up slowly, it can become a thing of wonder.” – Glen Hansard, 2019

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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://glenhansard.com/

‘I’ll Be You, Be Me’:

Tour Dates

7th March – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Koninklijk Theater Carré SOLD OUT
8th March – Hamburg, Germany – Elbphilharmonie Hamburg SOLD OUT
9th April – Dublin, Ireland – Vicar Street
10th April – Dublin, Ireland – Vicar Street
12th April – Derry, United Kingdom – St. Columb’s Hall
13th April – Derry, United Kingdom – St. Columb’s Hall SOLD OUT
15th April – London, United Kingdom – Barbican Centre
16th April – London, United Kingdom – Barbican Centre
27th April – Paris, France – Casino de Paris
29th April – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Koninklijk Theater Carré
30th April – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Koninklijk Theater Carré
2nd May – Copenhagen, Denmark – Amager Bio / BETA
4th May – Stockholm, Sweden – Skandiascenen
6th May – Brussels, Belgium – Cirque Royal
8th May – Cologne, Germany – Kőlner Philharmonie
9th May – Frankfurt Am Main, Germany – Alte Oper
11th May – Brno-žabovřesky, Czech Republic – 5th Anniversary of SONO Centrum
13th May – Warszawa, Poland – Palladium
14th May – Warszawa, Poland – Palladium
16th May – Berlin, Germany – Admiralspalast
17th May – Berlin, Germany – Admiralspalast
19th May – Berlin, Germany – Admiralspalast

LAU – Midnight And Closedown (Reveal REVEAL078CD)

Midnight And ClosedownFollowing their tenth anniversary retrospective Kris Drever, Aidan O’Rourke and Martin Green return with an album of new music and Midnight And Closedown is certainly new.

It opens with a stunning song, ‘I Don’t Want To Die Here’. Drever says that the album is about islands and the listener is left imagining some God-forsaken lump of rock out in the ocean or wondering whether “here” refers to a state of mind or circumstances. Paul Simon wrote ‘I Am A Rock’ about just such a man and that theme is at the forefront of Midnight And Closedown. A long fiddle intro resolves into another song, ‘She Put On Her Headphones’ – the modern method of isolation – and that is followed by ‘Toy Tigers’ which I’m still deciphering. That’s three songs in succession: what’s going on?

‘Echolalia’ is the nearest we get to a “traditional” Lau instrumental track but even here Drever adds some la-la-la vocals and the beginning and the end. ‘Itshardtoseemokwhenyourenot’ seems to link an old and a new Lau. Martin Green’s electronic percussion pounds and Aidan O’Rourke’s fiddle pulses and dances as the track briefly breaks into something resembling rock’n’roll in the middle. It really is a terrific song and is only bettered by ‘Dark Secret’. The slightly sinister lyrics seem to be about therapy, at least in part, and drinking and I can’t believe that it is in any way autobiographical. Drever sings of being “born on the Isle Of Horses” which could refer to Shetland but I don’t want to follow that trail any further.

‘Return To Portland’ is the album’s second big instrumental piece with Green and O’Rourke trading lead lines and Green doing very much what Brian Eno did back in the day. There is noticeably less accordion here than we’re used to. Finally we have the acoustic ‘Riad’, written by O’Rourke although all three share writing credits, harking back to the band’s early days.

Midnight And Closedown is as brilliant as it is unexpected. Decade was full of the power and sheer volume that characterised Lau’s earlier work but this seems like a whole new direction.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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: http://www.lau-music.co.uk/

‘Echolalia’ – live:

LUCY KAPLANSKY – Everyday Street (own label)

Everyday StreetAlthough she released Tomorrow You’re Going, a collaboration with Richard Shindell, in 2014, it’s been six years since Kaplansky’s last solo album. Primarily available direct from her website, Everyday Street is her eighth and, a reflection of her live shows, the most acoustically-based work she’s recorded, accompanied by just multi-instrumentalist Duke Levine on assorted guitars and mandolin with harmonies from Shindell and Shawn Colvin. Recorded over just four days, many in just one take, it mixes original material, co-written with her husband, Richard Litvin, alongside four covers that have been live staples over the years.

Charting themes of joy, friendship, family, loss and discovery, it opens with the simple fingerpicked ‘Old Friends’, an aptly titled duet with Colvin, that both recalls their times singing together in the early days of the Greenwich Village folk scene and marks the end to a chapter when, for whatever reasons, they had a falling out.

Thoughts turn to family on ‘Sixth Avenue’, an 11th birthday eve musing on how your children grow up before you realise it, from a “little face covered in ice cream” to letting her cross the street on her own to join her friends until “the crowd is all I see”.

Spending time with her daughter while she’s still young remains the focus for ‘Janie’s Waltz’, from whence comes the album’s title, celebrates the mundane pleasures of everyday life, the walk to the park and the wonders of a child discovering the world as, “amazed by a tiny blowing leaf/You have to chase it and pull away from me”. Likewise, the countrified strum of ‘Day Is Done’ finds her kissing her goodnight, wishing time would slow down, her daughter impatient for it to move on.

‘Keeping Time’, on which Shindell sings harmony, initially seems to tread a similar path, singing of morning walks after dropping her daughter at school, parents walking with their kids, but it narrows the focus to become a tribute to the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, a neighbour, recollections of seeing him with his family “scruffy and smiling/After school in the yard”, and recalling the shock on hearing how “the movie star father”, the “neighborhood king” had been found dead from “chasing the dragon.” The song serves as both a poignant memory, but also a reminder of the fickle nature of life where “the cruelest undertow/Is stronger than all a man builds and loves/And dreams and knows”.

Further into the running order comes the mandolin-led strum of ‘Thirty Years Begin Now’, a Townes Van Zandt-like number celebrating her marriage to her husband, remembering their wedding day (“we stood beneath an antique quilt/Our multithreaded canopy/ee cummings words were read”) three decades earlier, reaffirming the promises made and the feelings in her heart.

Turning to the covers, the first is something of a surprise, being her reading of the Scottish traditional ‘Loch Lomond’, given an atmospheric electric guitar intro before unfolding as a weary, regret-stained lament for a relationship that has run its course, Kaplansky bringing a hint of a Highlands accent to her vocals. Second up, she nods to one of her influences with the Appalachian-hued, mandolin-strummed Nanci Griffith’s ‘I Wish It Would Rain’ evoking her formative years in the 80s Greenwich Village folk scene. She follows this by adding her name to the roll call of those who have covered Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, a piano-backed arrangement highly respectful of the original. The final choice is a terrific National steel-flecked reinterpretation of Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’ that swaps his blue collar teenage defiance and reckless romanticism for a far quieter approach without ever diluting the passion about breaking free.

The album ends on one final original, not a new number but rather a reimagining of ‘The Tide’, the title track of her 1994 debut, its lyrics capturing frustration (“now I see this anger/Is the horse I choose to ride/Now you say you want something nice from me/Well if you find it, take it, it’s on me/In the meantime don’t bother me/The tide has washed the nice from me”) and wildness (“I could drink you under the table/I could drink you out of town”) a contrast to the sense of contentment that infuses the new songs. She may still be the “sad-eyed little girl/On a tightrope … singing/As she passes through this world”, but these are now songs to make you feel grateful for the life you have lived and accepting of the experiences rather than treating it as a confrontation.

Mike Davies

Artist’s website: www.lucykaplansky.com

‘Old Friends’ – live on the sofa with Shawn Colvin:

NIGHT TREE – Dedications (Night Tree Records, NT02)

DedicationsNight Tree is an American/Swedish sextet, all alumni of the New England Conservatory. The group has worked extensively with US-Irish band Solas, with founder Séamus Egan producing both their albums so far. Dedications is Night Tree’s second album, commemorating places and people of significance to them.

The unique set-up of saxophone, accordion and percussion supplementing a classical string trio alerts the listener that this album will be something out of the ordinary. From beginning to end, nothing goes quite where you imagine it will, each track a travelogue of global musical styles drawn from an extensive repertoire. As well as many shades of classical music, from chamber to avant-garde/minimalist, there are rich seams of jazz, traditional and world music. The Celtic influence features strongly throughout, particularly evident in tracks like ‘The Last Day Of Summer’ and ‘Blue-Eyed Sailor/The Piano Room’.

The nine-and-a-half minute superbly-titled ‘Elvish Warfare Suite No.1’ sets the tone for what to expect. Shifting constantly, from moodily enticing accordion to a wave of fast strings over a muted percussive beat, this is a twisty-turny beast. A curving sax line gives way to a husky violin lamenting over a spare piano line before the mood becomes lithe and light once more, over a cidada-like swish of percussion. The return of the sax lends an unsettling shift to a cooler angularity, concluding with heavy-bowed melancholy strings.

‘Oya’ culminates in African-sounding vocalisations, whilst ‘Baby Blue’ kicks off with doo-wop harmonies over plucked violin before taking a woozy turn past some metronomic strings. ‘The Girl In The White Dress’ continues with the Michael Nyman-esque strings, a slippery accordion leading off the main melodic line.

‘North Carolina Cottage’ begins with a cappella voice, instruments joining the off-beat in a flowing, jazz style, accompanied by a bleating sax. ‘Year With The Yeti/Wings From The North’ is a light, skipping melody with a nimble sax part and ‘Point Joe’ culminates in a sax coda of the main tune. Although the sax is used with great invention, it’s hard to shake off some of its 1980s connotations, which linger in the rather bland finale ‘Great Storm’.

Night Tree clearly relish playing with the possibilities of harmonics and composition, skilfully fusing unlikely musical bedfellows and taking their music to the edges of disconcerting atonality. They’re tightly attuned to each other’s playing, apparently even practising in darkness sometimes, so as to concentrate more. There’s a constant, fluid restlessness to the music, yet it remains highly listenable and enjoyable. Someone should probably tell the band’s faces, though: their cover photos look like they just got a nasty tax bill.

Su O’Brien

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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 website: www.nighttreemusic.com

‘Oya’ – live:

Levellers announce Metway competition

Metway Studios
Continuing their 30th Anniversary celebrations, and following their recent tour which saw them play a very special show at London’s iconic 100 Club alongside major venues throughout the UK, Levellers have announced a competition to win a five day recording session at Metway Studios in Brighton.

Owned by Levellers, the studio has been used by artists including Nick Cave, Royal Blood, Shirley Collins, The Mission, Yonaka, Orbital, Sleeper, and of course Levellers, who have recorded eight albums there over its 20 year history.

To celebrate its role as a studio owned and run by musicians, the band are now launching a competition for bands and solo artists to win a five day recording session in the studio.

The band are inviting artists to submit their material via email to lois@levellers.co.uk and via CD to Metway Studios, 55 Canning Street, Brighton, BN2 0EF. The band will judge the competition at the end of April, and the winner will have until the end of August to use their five-day session.  For more information, head to the newly re-launched Metway Studios website here – http://www.metwaystudios.co.uk/

Following the release of their Top 20 album We The Collective last year, the band are currently releasing a series of limited edition vinyl reissues remastered from the original 1/2” analogue tapes by the band’s Jon Sevink.

Some of the albums have never been released on vinyl and each of the band’s original studio albums from the 90s contain a previously unreleased live album recorded on tour at the time of release.

To kick off the campaign, their two most recent studio albums, Letters From The Underground and Static On The Airwaves were released on pink and purple vinyl respectively and are now sold-out, and were followed by the Top 5 albums Levellers (#2, 1993) and Zeitgeist (#1, 1995) as 2LP orange / yellow vinyl sets in November.

March sees the band’s next three albums released on vinyl for the first time ever. Recorded at the peak of their career, the double live album, Headlights, White Lines, Black Tar Rivers (#13, 1996), along with Mouth To Mouth (#5, 1997) and Hello Pig (#28, 2000) also get the coloured vinyl treatment.

Also in March, the band will headline and curate A Beautiful Night Out at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust’s week-long residency at the venue.

Finally, in June 2019, for the first time ever, Levellers’ stunning headline set from Glastonbury ‘94 will be released on 2LP gold vinyl, completing the band’s year of ‘indies only’ albums.

All albums only available from your local independent record store or at: https://www.levellers.co.uk/shop & https://levellers.tmstor.es/

One of folkmaster’s all time favourites – ‘Men An Tol’ from Reading Hexagon 2006.

Sound Of The Sirens release new single and announce tour dates

Sound Of The Sirens
Photograph courtesy of Rust Magazine

West Country folk-rock duo, Sound Of The Sirens, have shared ‘The Yellow Road’, the latest track to be taken from their upcoming album This Time, out January 25th via DMF Records.

Showcasing the duo’s virtuosic capability for rousing songwriting and mesmerising harmonies, ‘The Yellow Road’ is a touching and heartfelt track, flowing from beautifully subtle verses to choruses that swell in both intensity and emotion. The track follows the release of ‘Troubles’ at the end of 2018, the first single to be taken from the album.

This Time – the follow-up to their debut album, For All Our Sins, which was released in 2017 to widespread praise – continues to showcase an evident gift for crafting unique, vivid and enduring melodies over 15 heartfelt tracks.

This Time is a collection of moments, emotions, challenges and stories,” say the duo. “We’ve collected lyrics, melodies and ideas from the past couple of years for this project. We created this album last winter in an isolated barn in Wales with only guitars, a piano, wine and the dogs for company. The themes of time, love, loss, perseverance, hope and clarity are intertwined in these songs.”

Throughout the album, Sound Of The Sirens – duo Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood – blend intoxicating vocal harmonies with beautifully crafted instrumentals to create a seamless collection of captivating tracks.

The album will be available digitally, on CD and black heavyweight vinyl, with signed copies available to pre-order now from Sound Of The Sirens’ online store ‘Troubles’ is available as an instant grat with all album pre-orders.

Sound Of The Sirens will embark on a 20-date UK tour this month, including dates in Exeter, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow and Manchester, and a date at London’s St Pancras Church.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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: https://www.soundofthesirens.net/

‘The Yellow Road’:

TOUR DATES

25/01 – Paignton, Palace Theatre
26/01 – Exeter, Phoenix
27/01 – Winchester, Railway Inn
28/01 – London, St Pancras Church
29/01 – Hull, Adelphi
31/01 – Milton Keynes, Stable Room 2

14/02 – Bath, Komedia Café
15/02 – Leeds, Mill Hill Chapel
16/02 – Southport, The Atkinson
17/02 – Oxford, Bullingdon

14/03 – Barnstaple, Plough @ St Anne’s
15/03 – South Molton, Plough @ The George
16/03 – Great Torrington, The Plough
21/03 – Colchester, 3 Wise Monkeys
22/03 – Newcastle, Cluny 2
23/03 – Glasgow, Hug & Pint
28/03 – Manchester, Band On The Wall
30/03 – Chester, Storyhouse

05/04 – Hastings, White Rock Theatre
06/04 – Bedford, Esquires