Orphan Colours announce debut album

Orphan Colours

When UK alt.country outfit ahab went on indefinite hiatus, song-writer Steven Llewellyn decided to form his own band with the help of ahab originator Dave Burn and former bassist Graham Knight. Orphan Colours was born!

Being firmly a part of the London Americana scene made it easy to get involved in collaborations with members of bands like Danny & The Champions of The World, who’s drummer Steve Brookes, already having toured heavily with ahab, quickly became a permanent member of Orphan Colours, along with Fred Abbott, formerly lead guitarist with Noah & the Whale.

After a successful EP release the band focussed on building a live reputation on the festival circuit, playing the likes of Cambridge Folk Festival & Maverick, as well as headlining their own show at London’s iconic The Borderline.

Alongside all of this the band were busy writing and recording their debut album All On Red. Llewellyn explains:

“Most of the songs are about relationships of friends or lovers, breaking down or beginning. I had written my fair share of sensitive songs for ahab – about love and loss and all that, and there’s a few on here but I really wanted to bring a bit of rock n roll into the UK Americana scene and I feel like we’ve achieved a good balance on this record. I want it to excite people most of all.”

“I picked the name [All On Red] because of it’s meaning in gambling, which is essentially what all this music biz career is. At the end of 2013 both ahab and Noah & The Whale had been chewed up and spat out by the music business. We found ourselves out of a job despite both band’s upward trajectories. The toll of touring and hard graft was too much. Speaking for myself, I had a lot more to give and I wasn’t anywhere near done yet. I had a back log of songs that weren’t fit for ahab and I wanted to get them out into the world. So despite having failed with ahab and the financial pressures I was under, I put every penny I had into this project. I had an amazing band, we had a great producer guiding us (Rupert Christie – High Hopes EP) and a very experienced manager that believed in us. The odds, I thought were as good as they could be these days. Three years later here we are with our debut album, a record deal and a full UK tour booked. The bet has so far paid off.”

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 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: https://www.orphancolours.com/

‘Goodnight California’:

PURCELL’S POLYPHONIC PARTY – An Invitation To Dance (WetFootMusic WFM170901)

An Invitation To DanceA musician once commented on social media that the word he hated seeing in a review was “interesting”. I was as guilty as anyone and resolved to stop using it but have to say that An Invitation To Dance is a very interesting concept. Purcell’s Polyphonic Party combines the instrumental talents of Vicki Swan, John Dipper and Jonny Dyer and the album comprises twelve tracks mostly drawn from John Playford’s collections. The thing is that the tempos are strict and the repeats are listed for the dancers among us. The tracks run to between four and six minutes although ‘St Margaret’s Hill’ and ‘Softly Good Tummas’ may tax the stamina a bit.

Fans of John Dipper’s other band, Methera, will love this and as a non-dancer I also approached the album as a listener. Dipper restricts himself to the viola d’amore making it the principal melody instrument and as well as her nyckelharpa, Vicki demonstrates her skill on double bass and various aerophones, including bagpipes. Jonny plays harpsichord and piano as well as guitar, bouzouki and citole.

Inevitably strings dominate but the tracks to which Vicki adds flute, pipes or recorder provide sufficient variety for the listener. My favourite tracks are ‘Terpsichore’, taken from Michael Praetorious – I’ve always preferred early music to modern classical – ‘Mount Hills’ with lots of bagpipes and Jonny’s hand in the composition and ‘Kesterne Gardens’ with a remarkably modern sounding introduction on guitar and bass. There are a couple of maggots, which I discovered a couple of weeks ago is what they called earworms in the 18th century because the tunes go round and round.

I will confess that it’s taken me a couple of plays to get into An Invitation To Dance but now I’m there I can safely say that I’m very happy.

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 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.purcelltrio.co.uk

Teaser video:

ANGE HARDY – Bring Back Home (Story Records STREC 1701)

Bring Back HomeAnge Hardy’s new album Bring Back Home was released on November 28th. For the past few years, she has had nominations and awards a-plenty, both for her music and most recently her radio programme, Folk Findings.

If you’ve not come across Ange Hardy before (I was surprised recently to find an acoustic music promoter who hadn’t) Bring Back Home is her sixth album and her music is in the English folk tradition. Except, of course, she’s not predominantly a singer of traditional English folk songs. On this album only two of the fourteen songs (‘Claudy Banks’ and a lovely version of ‘Waters of Tyne’) are traditional. The remainder are written by Hardy. Lyrically, musically and through the arrangements, though, they are at the heart of the tradition.

Have a listen to ‘What It Is’ for Hardy’s recognition that in chasing awards, “I’d missed the point of music! Life is far, far too short to chase goals without enjoying the journey”. The track has a beautifully poised vocal on a song that, until I read the sleeve notes, I heard as a generic lyric about life rather than the specific meaning for a writer who has now come to understand that the clubs, singers and audiences, not the awards, are “the beating heart of folk”.

Hardy’s voice absorbs the listener. On ‘Sisters Three’ the different phrasings draw you in to a folk tale about the development of good and evil in the heart of mankind, whereas on ‘Chase The Devil Down’ the vocal dances with the guitar throughout the track. On ‘The Hunter, The Prey’ her voice breathlessly pulls us into the magical world of the song, but on ‘Once I Was A Rose’ it is more acapella and more delicate. I had the CD in the car last week and my passenger, a trained singer, described the voice as “fine”. Her meaning was not, as I would use the word to mean, ‘better than good’ (though it is); she meant it in the way a maker would use the word in describing fine needlework, fine silverwork et al – deft, delicate, precise (as well as rather good).

Ange Hardy arranged and produced the album and the arrangements bring in musicians (Peter Knight, Lukas Drinkwater, Evan Carson, Alex Cumming, Jon Dyer and Lee Cuff) who enrich the songs and centre them in folk music. Similarly, the lyrics generally deal with universal themes, set in the “fictional landscape that seems to permeate many of my songs. Willow trees and streams…dense woodlands….A sense of magic and mystery surrounding complex characters; each on their own journey” [sleeve notes]. This, too, is very much a traditional folk landscape.

I’m writing this in the first week of December. As a result, I’m particularly struck by ‘What May You Do For The JAM’. When the Prime Minister expressed her concern for those who were just managing, civil servants acronymed them into the JAM. The song knows people in this world and, as well as knowing the fear of failing, has detail, “The turkey alone would be more than our savings” humanity, “And so I play Mum…..I carry on making a home full of Christmassy cheer”, and positivity, “My point is the only rock left here to build on is that of a world which has hope”. It’s as far as you can get from an acronym. Watch the video below and you’ll hear that it’s a good song as well as one which makes a human and political point. It might be too late, but if you fancy the idea, there are under three weeks to get a folk song to Number One for Christmas.

In the next couple of months there are gigs and radio shows that will help take Bring Back Home to a wider audience. That’s good, it’s a fine album.

Mike Wistow

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 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: https://www.angehardy.com

‘What May You Do For The JAM?”:

Levellers – new acoustic album and tour

Levellers

Celebrating their 30th anniversary in 2018, Brighton folk-punk band Levellers will be releasing We The Collective on March 9th via the band’s own label, On The Fiddle Recordings.

Emerging victorious through the ups and downs of label deals, spats with the music press and the wear and tear of touring, the Levellers have long been, and still are, one of the best live bands around but their impressive back catalogue of recorded music is often overlooked.

The band had more platinum, gold, and silver albums in the UK in the 1990s than any other British act. They’ve had seven Top 40 albums, including the number 1 album Zeitgeist and their platinum-selling 1991 album Levelling The Land, along with a string of Top 40 singles including ‘This Garden’, ‘Hope St’, ‘One Way Of Life’ and ‘What A Beautiful Day’.

Wanting to do something a bit different with their back catalogue, they brought in a string section and enlisted legendary producer John Leckie (Radiohead, Stone Roses) to help develop new acoustic arrangements for eight of their previous singles including ‘Liberty’, ‘Hope Street’ and ‘One Way’ which they recorded straight to tape at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios.

They also recorded two brand new songs ‘Shame’ and ‘Drug Bust McGee’ and the result is the ten track album We The Collective. Lead singer Mark Chadwick says “The different musicians, producer and the studio combined to make something really special”.

As part of the celebrations, Levellers will head out on a full Acoustic Tour in the Spring where they will be playing the new arrangements with guest musicians, starting at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival. They will play at the Roundhouse in London as part of the In The Round festival as well as a number of theatres and concert halls around the country. Support on the tour comes from Ginger Wildheart on all dates except Glasgow and London.

Despite only just being announced, the tickets for Preston, Milton Keynes and Winchester have already sold out.

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 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.levellers.co.uk

Tour Dates

FEBRUARY

Thursday 1st – Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow (Celtic Connections)
Friday 2nd – Wrexham, William Aston Hall
Saturday 3rd – Preston, Charter Theatre SOLD OUT
Sunday 4th – London, Roundhouse (In The Round Festival)

MARCH

Tuesday 13th – Buxton, Opera House
Wednesday 14th – Cheltenham, Town Hall
Thursday 15th – Yeovil, Westlands
Friday 16th – York, Barbican
Saturday 17th – Milton Keynes, The Stables SOLD OUT
Sunday 18th – Liverpool, Philharmonic
Tuesday 20th – Basingstoke, The Anvil
Wednesday 21st – Cambridge, Corn Exchange
Thursday 22nd – Leicester, De Montfort Hall
Friday 23rd – Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion
Saturday 24th – Winchester, Cathedral SOLD OUT

The “Making Of” video:

DAVID BOTTING – Heart Beat (Haven Records)

Heart BeatHeart Beat is the debut album from singer songwriter David Botting. Hard times in life can be the inspiration for many great songs, as David certainly knows. David has been playing guitar for as long as he can remember, but started writing songs while he became unwell with heart failure after a virus and was awaiting a heart transplant. He has documented his journey through a series of eleven songs, which acted as therapy during his treatment and kept him sane. Songwriter and producer Boo Hewerdine heard David perform, and wanted to collaborate on the album project. David wants to raise public awareness about organ donation and all the proceeds of the album will be donated to the Harefield Hospitals Charity.

The whole album is simply guitar and vocal and I really like the guitar playing. David’s influences are John Martyn and Kelly Joe Phelps. The feeling of the album is mellow and the arrangements are impeccable. It’s percussive and bluesy on some tracks and melodic in others with the sound of alternate tunings.

I particularly like the first track ‘Almenalp’, about a lovely place in Switzerland.
If I said there’s another world, another place above the clouds, would you come there and walk with me?
In sun blessed higher meadows high above the crowd, come there and walk with me.”
And track ten, ‘Camino De Le Luce’.
“We were lost and we were found on the camino, only ringing bells to guide us, only footsteps there beside us.”
Both songs are about real places but everybody has their own camino and place above the clouds so these songs have a universal appeal.

David’s voice is mellow with a breathy tone and a little bit gravely. For me the vocal feels a little bit sparse next to the guitar and I would have liked to hear some female backing vocals on it to bring out the lyrics a little more and balance the intricate guitar arrangements.

Gillian McCoy

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 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: https://www.facebook.com/david.botting

‘Taking The Pulse’:

LUKE DANIELS – Singing Ways To Feel More Junior (Gael Records GAEL017)

Singing WaysSinging Ways To Feel More Junior by Luke Daniels, is a wonderfully eclectic collection of a dozen songs, most of which are Daniels’ originals. It goes in many different directions (occasionally at the same time) and presents shades of folk, funk, blues, jazz and Americana, and while some of the tracks have slightly more edge than others, there is a definite sense of sweetness and brightness contained throughout.

The album opens with ‘Penny In The Slot’; it’s catchy, it’s fun and it bizarrely borrows from the 2003 ‘Fast Food Song’; incorporating the less-than-immortal line “McDonalds, McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut” into its lyric. Just as bizarrely, however, it works. While This Americana vibe is continued into the album’s second track (‘Only Love I’ll Leave To You’), it is the steady, danceable rhythms of ‘The House That Jack Built’ which introduce us to the album’s funkier elements. These grooves are very enjoyable, and are followed up by the beautifully delivered, (if comparatively melancholic) title track.

Following this number we are once again guided down the well-travelled Americana route through the quirkiness of the uplifting mandolin-led ‘Let’s Not Waste Another Day’ and ‘Strange Power’, before we get to the bluesy Presidential piss-take; ‘Elizabeth Trump And Sons’, one of two topically tinged numbers on the disc; with ‘Better The Devil You Know’ featuring on the album’s last quarter. Indeed, even at this late stage, we continue to hear new approaches and new experiments; the eerie but engaging soundbites which introduce ‘What Becomes Of Gilgamesh’ or the closing number, (Stevie Wonder cover) ‘Don’t You Worry About A Thing’, which boasts another tremendous vocal take, and proves the perfect conclusion to an interesting, enjoyable, if at times off the wall journey through this collection of “new songs for grown-ups.”

Christopher James Sheridan

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 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.lukedanielsmusic.com

‘The House That Jack Built’ – official video: