I specifically asked to review The Frozen North because I was interested in the concept put to me as “a collection of traditional songs by Sheffield based duo Loreley. As a project with the aim of exploring archives of mostly forgotten folk songs in order to breathe new life into then with a variety of new tunes and arrangements completely composed by Loreley themselves” – Interesting!
I quote Loughton Folk Club In Essex, “The most dramatic performance I’ve ever seen at a folk club”. I have to assume that ‘Loreley Live’ is more exciting then ‘Loreley recorded’ Maybe I am missing something but I can only describe this CD, The Frozen North, as interesting.
Tracks one and two are sung at such a speed that I could barely make out the lyrics, despite several listens. I was especially disappointed to be told that track three, ‘Storm In The Holy Ground’, referred to Cobh in County Cork. It has always been my belief that the ‘Holy Ground’ as sung originally by The Clancy Brothers was an Australian song about a brothel, possibly in Cobh.
Track four is an instrumental, ‘The Blinky Set’. I am afraid the musicianship does not match up to the standard necessary to compete in the current instrumental scene. I have to say that I am confused by this entire album because I would not consider Maddy Glenn as a great vocalist either so, all in all this is a very specialist CD that may appeal to a particular type of fan. Maybe they are a better ‘live’ act.
Unless I am honest in my reviews then they would have no value. I did not enjoy this CD. It is slightly ‘bonkers’. Loreley claim that they would use “mostly forgotten” material but ‘The Oak And The Ash’, ‘The Snows They Meet The Soonest’, ‘Ilkley Moor Baht’at’ and ‘High Barbaree’ are still heard regularly around folk venues.
Their rendition of ‘Ilkley Moor Baht’at’ is the low of the CD but the track, ‘High Barbaree’, The high point. All of this is, of course, only my opinion and I am sure Loreley fans will enjoy the CD and Loreley themselves would not have released the CD The Frozen North unless It achieved what they were aiming for. I do like the cover, simple but lovely.
Thea Gilmore has announced the release of her new album The Counterweight, which will be released June 2nd through Cooking Vinyl. The first single to be taken from the album, the rallying anthem ‘Sounds Good To Me’, is out now.
“I like to think of it as a bit of an anarchist’s polka…” says Thea of the single. “Calling the dispossessed, the downtrodden, the weary to arms. Lighting a fire… remembering there’s more than one way to live and who wants to walk when you can dance!”
It’s been 13 years and eight albums since Thea released Avalanche, her critically acclaimed fifth release and the album deemed to be her breakthrough record. The then 23-year-old was writing with a fire inside her post 9/11 about global anxiety and the increasingly vacuous celebrity culture.
Calling upon the spirit of this predecessor, Thea is back with the album she feels follows it. Having never entirely lost her voice of protest, on subsequent albums Thea was looking inward more, singing songs about the depression she had been diagnosed with, love songs in uncertain times and songs about parenthood.
Now though, she is back with The Counterweight, an album full of passion and fire inside to protest, and an album that echoes the rapid change in our social and political landscape that 2016 brought with it.
When finishing the album in September, Thea was forced to look back at the spring and summer recording period and the tumultuous times that happened throughout the year including working on ‘Reconcile’ as Britain voted to leave the EU, and recording ‘Johnny Gets A Gun’ three days after the Orlando shooting.
That day was also most harrowingly of all, the day when the world was watching the tragedy of Jo Cox’s murder unfold and at the very eleventh hour became the inspiration for the final track ‘The War’, with the first and last verses directly referencing her.
Thea quotes “I was throwing a cautionary message in a bottle into the shifting tide, but also singing a reminder that acts of kindness and humanity are never in vain: ‘You can cut that stem, but wild flowers grow again, all you can do is just tend to them and know that you tried’”
“I’d finished the album pretty much. All the shit that had gone down in 2016, the world changing moments… everything had shifted and this song fell out of me on one of the last mix days. The first and last verses directly reference Jo Cox and in between. I like to think it shines a light on these dark days, but also offers hope.”
The track is also possibly the mission statement of the album, going to war on the negativity and bleakness of the current world mesmerized by fake news and futility.
The Counterweight tries to be exactly that. A redressing of the balance, a tool of pressure, an exertion of opposite force and as such, a flag of hope.
Thea Gilmore will be heading out on a UK headline tour to support the album, with full details to be announced soon.
If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Thea Gilmore – The Counterweight 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.
The first album by Aimee Mann in five years, Mental Illness, will be released on March 31st via SuperEgo/Membran. The record follows 2012’s Charmer, which Rolling Stone proclaimed “shows off the more pop-oriented side to her usual acoustic tendencies.” With this follow-up, she returns to a more musically soft-spoken but still lyrically barbed approach, as heard in the album’s lead single, ‘Goose Snow Cone’.
Mental Illness shows off Mann’s rich, incisive and wry melancholia in an almost all-acoustic format, with a “finger-picky” style inspired by some of her favourite 60’s and 70’s folk-rock records, augmented by haunting strings arranged by her longtime producer, Paul Bryan. Additional players include: Jonathan Coulton on acoustic guitar and backing vocals, Jay Bellerose on drums, Jamie Edwards on piano, John Roderick as a co-writer and Ted Leo (who recently joined her in a joint side project, The Both) as a background singer.
On this eleven song album, the Oscar-nominated, Grammy-winning singer remains a student of human behaviour, drawing not just on her own experiences to form the characters in the songs but tales told by friends. “I assume the brief on me is that people think that I write these really depressing songs,” says Mann. “I don’t know – people may have a different viewpoint – but that’s my own interpretation of the cliché about me. So if they thought that my songs were very downtempo, very depressing, very sad, and very acoustic, I thought I’d just give myself permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record I could…I mean, calling it Mental Illness makes me laugh, because it is true, but it’s so blunt that it’s funny.”
After several albums with ‘Til Tuesday, Mann began her solo career in 1993 with the album Whatever and made a name for herself through her independent success and the founding of her record label, SuperEgo Records. In addition to her solo albums, she has appeared on many film soundtracks, most notably the song score for Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, with ‘Save Me’ landing her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for Best Original Song.
In 2014, Mann joined up with Ted Leo for a more rock-oriented duo project, releasing a self-titled album under the name The Both. Other extracurricular activities since Charmer ranged from playing herself on the hit TV series ‘Portlandia’ to performing for President Obama and the First Lady at the White House. Named one of The Huffington Post’s ‘13 Funny Musicians You Should Be Following On Twitter’,” Mann has gained a diehard social media following for her quick wit and stinging observation.
If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Aimee Mann 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.
London-via-Somerset newcomer Jeremy Tuplin will release his debut LP I Dreamt I Was An Astronaut in the summer of 2017. Following on from his two independent released EPs (2016’s Open Letters and 2014’s Carry The Fire EP), his music was described in The Telegraph Culture section as ‘Stunningly candid… A distinctive deep vocal that has hints of Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan.’
The album was recorded with long-time collaborator Mark Estall, mostly in his new Marketstall Studio in South Bermondsey (with extra recording taking place in both Tuplin’s and Estall’s living rooms). Musically the new songs take a different direction to the earlier released EPs, combining electronic and synthesised sounds with more acoustic and organic instruments for a ‘retro-futuristic feel’ to branch into a genre which could, possibly, be described as ‘space-folk’.
The first taster from the new album comes in the shape of ‘Where The Light Ends’ which you can hears below.
This song is split into two halves – one a journey into space, and the other describing the closure of a flawed relationship. Both connected in certain ways and by the refrain “Where the light ends, and the darkness begins”, before coming to an instrumental, spacey resolution.
“Stunningly candid… A distinctive deep vocal that has hints of Leonard Cohen and Bill Callahan” The Telegraph Culture
“Cohenesque… A dexterous lyricist with an ear for gentle melody.” Whisperin and Hollerin
“A gorgeous, swooning, romantic EP… A tight, careful, ornate beauty over 5 tracks. It sounds effortless, which is a grand achievement.” Independent Clauses
Enchanting songstress Martha Tilston has announced details of her new album Nomad released via Squiggly Records on May 12th. Martha’s seventh album to date, Nomad will be preceded by the double A-side single ‘Nomad Blood’/‘Little Arrow’ on April 7 with UK live dates to follow.
Nomad stands as Tilston’s most compelling work to date, an album full of experimentation and impulse. The album was born whilst recording 2014’s much praised album The Sea: ensconced at a cliffside cottage in Cornwall, Martha and her frequent collaborators Matt Tweed, Nick Marshall and Tim Cotterell, amongst other new faces, would pick up instruments in the late hours and begin to experiment with Martha’s other ideas. Often just blueprints, the outcome of these sessions arising from spontaneity, experimentation and maturing songwriting was to become Nomad.
Across the album, musical arrangements realm from the pinhead intimacy of acoustic guitar and voice to the expansive electric guitar, slide guitar, rolling beats, deep bass, banjo and string arrangements. There are subtle undertones of old country music flittering throughout this album, suggestions of rock and pop and a good dose of stripped back acoustic cinema for the listener to submerge in.
Thematically Nomad explores various elemental features of existence – first single ‘Nomad Blood’ invites the listener to make a fire outside and lie back, looking up at the stars around and embrace the environment in which we live. ‘Green Moon’ which originally began as an acoustic song opens up slowly, building in its musical arrangement and drawing on the vibrato of violins and mandolins. Speaking about the song, Martha says: “We are all a hair’s width away from feeling either a part of, or outside of any experience or relationship. Do we stay forever outside looking in, never daring to reveal and leave ourselves vulnerable, or do we say; screw it, so you told my secrets to everyone, I will survive and I will trust again.”
Elsewhere the album points towards loss and guidance on ‘Little Arrow’ and on ‘Stories, it begins to ask questions of how we use older, deeper tales to advise and reflect upon our more personal novellas. Martha touches upon the conquests that musicians and artists face on ‘Climbing Gates’ before exploring the regaining of self-confidence that she experienced as a female in the music industry on ‘Fish Tank’. Ultimately Nomad examines the human condition through filters of storytelling and reflection, rarely pointing to answers but instead leaning upon the moniker of ambiguity. It is an album of self-discovery rather than an album of answers: a true nomadic journey.
Martha Tilston has grown up immersed in music from a young age. Her singer-songwriter father Steve Tilston and renowned folk singer Maggie Boyle (step-mother) were obvious influences, with their musician friends Bert Jansch, John Rebourn and John Martyn often gathering and singing in the family kitchen. Martha’s own musical journey has taken her from the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury to touring the far reaches of the globe. Originally one half of folk duo Mouse (alongside Nick Marshall), Martha often shared the stage with the likes of Kate Tempest and Damien Rice before earning a nomination from the BBC for best newcomer and featuring on the Zero 7 album, Yeah Ghost. Following the release of Nomad, Martha will have released seven albums to date on her own label Squiggly Records building up a large audience worldwide.
If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Martha Tilston 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.
Fri 28 April The Parish, HUDDERSFIELD, UK Tickets
Sat 29 April Everyman Studio Theatre, CHELTENHAM, UK Tickets
Thurs 04 May Trinity Centre, BRISTOL, UK Tickets
Fri 05 May The Wonder Inn, MANCHESTER, UK Tickets
Sun 07 May St Mary’s Hall, WHITSTABLE, UK Tickets
Sat 13 May Princess Pavilion, FALMOUTH, UK Tickets
Thurs 18 May Kings Place, LONDON, UK Tickets
Fri 09 June Boileroom, GUILDFORD, UK Tickets
Thurs 15 June The Wheatsheaves, FROME, UK Tickets
Fri 16 June Theatre Severn, SHREWSBURY, UK Tickets
Wed 21 June Acorn Arts Centre, PENZANCE, UK Tickets
Sat 24 June Acoustic Haven, TOTNES, UK Tickets
Introducing The Food of Love Project, a compilation album featuring some of the great names of folk music performing a rich variety of songs either referenced or performed in the plays of William Shakespeare. The album was curated and commissioned by Sebastian Reynolds of PinDrop and Tom McDonnell of TMD Media to mark the Oxford Shakespeare Jubilee 2016, a festival programme of events exploring Shakespeare’s incredible legacy.
The Food of Love Project album is a treasure trove of varied interpretations and extrapolations of Shakespearean period songs. Opening with the orchestral drone folk chorus created by Dead Rat Orchestra with their version of ‘Bonnie Sweet Robin Is To The Greenwood Gone’, as referenced in Hamlet, the album gets off to suitably grandiose start. Steam-punk inventor/musician Thomas Truax reimagines classic English ballad ‘Greensleeves’ in a typically cosmic, surrealist light, and Oxfordian band Stornoway rework the old Gaelic tune ‘Eibhlín A Riún’ into a beautiful, sonorous nugget of pop gold. Talking about his performance of ‘Caleno Custure Me’, acclaimed Scottish folk troubadour Alasdair Roberts says:
“Of a couple of songs suggested to me in relation to this project, ‘Caleno Custure Me’ (referenced somewhat obliquely in Henry IV Part 2) was the most appealing. I appreciate the mystery of the uncertain etymology of the title/chorus line (although I suppose the most likely explanation is that it’s garbled Irish Gaelic). There’s a beautiful recording of the song by the late Alfred Deller, the great countertenor, who’s a singer I’ve enjoyed listening to a bit over the years. I thought that I would attempt to go ‘historically accurate’ with this new recording of the song and so I enlisted the services of my good friend and lute player Gordon Ferries.”
Having been commissioned and curated by Seb and Tom, stalwarts of the ever-thriving Oxford music scene, the Oxon crowd is well represented, alongside Stornoway, by local heroes Flights of Helios, Brickwork Lizards and James Bell. ‘The Children Of The Midnight Chimes’ is a unique collaboration between Seb (producer) and Tom (vocals), especially for the album. Their abstract, drone noise take on ‘Oh Death, Rock Me Asleep’ is fittingly atmospheric, considering that the poem on which it was based was allegedly written by Anne Boleyn as she awaited her beheading in the Tower of London. The album is completed by a magisterial take on ‘Farewell, Dear Love’ (Twelfth Night) by Rob St John accompanied by cellist Pete Harvey; a collaborative deconstruction of ‘Peg-a-Ramsey’ and ‘Yellow Hose’ (Twelfth Night) by Nathaniel Mann of Dead Rat Orchestra and folk guitarist Nick Castell; a sophisticated retelling of ‘Go From My Window’(Much Ado About Nothing) entitled ‘Strength In A Whisper’ by Scottish folk singer Kirsty Law; and a sprawling, ambient folk adaption of ‘Lawn As White As Driven Snow’ (A Winter’s Tale) to close the album by singer and experimental musician David Thomas Broughton.
The album is dedicated to the memory of John Renbourn, who had committed to participate in the project before he passed away in 2015.