BOO HEWERDINE – Swimming in Mercury (REVEAL072CDX)

Swimming In MercuryBoo Hewerdine’s new album Swimming In Mercury will be released on April 28th and the single ‘Satellite Town’ on April 21st. He has a pedigree which stretches back more than thirty years and is acclaimed as one of the UK’s best songwriters: ‘Patience Of Angels’ was nominated for an Ivor Novello Award in 1995; his musical partnerships include Eddi Reader, Brooks Williams (in State of the Union), Chris Difford, Kris Drever; he is in demand as a producer; and he has written music for film and television.

Swimming in Mercury is an album of stories from his younger days, beautifully smooth in its production. On ‘The Year That I Was Born’, he takes us back to 1961 not just with a reminder of historical events (an American in space, building the Berlin Wall, the Beatles in the Cavern) but also with a language that you don’t hear nowadays “you had to count each penny” and ending with “another mouth to feed/…….that was me”.

‘A Letter to my Younger Self’ is classic Hewerdine – a lyric which captures the idea (impossible to achieve and something we’ve probably all wished for) of letting his younger self know what he’s learned as an older person. It has catchy rising lines in the verse and imagery like “On Battersea bridge with a mindful of rain” topped off in a chorus with brass and bop bop bop ba da ba driving the conclusion “After all I’ve been through and I’m still just the same”’ and the hard learned truth “Let somebody love you”.

The title track was written about David Bowie: “You were the ultra violet on our new colour TV” and “So many mothers and fathers said is it a he or a she” – if you saw the performance of ‘Starman’ on Top of the Pops in 1972 you’ll know how well this takes you back to that evening.

‘The Boy Who Never Cried Wolf’ is another gem. ‘The Voice Behind The Curtain’ is about those who “never got to shine” and could only have been written by a man whose greatest hits is self-effacingly called My Name In The Brackets. ‘American TV’ references California and has Beach Boy harmonies played delicately in the background. ‘My First Band’ sings of “broken strings and cheap guitars” and “on old cassettes I find/ from time to time/ my first band”. These are all songs that recreate that period in the sixties and seventies when, for those of us who weren’t Twiggy or John Lennon et al, our lives were much harder than the backdrop of glamour we saw on the TV.

Swimming In Mercury is an album that repays more, and closer, listening. To give two examples: ‘My First Band’ has a line about the old band meeting up and “we slip into the old routine” – to no more than three seconds of crashing drums and loud lead guitar; ‘Gemini’ didn’t strike me as a stand out track as I listened to the album as a whole but when I had new music on shuffle in the car it came on and blew away the tracks that had been playing previously. It is an album crafted by, as Ian Cripps says on Hewerdine’s website, “a unique talent”.

We may not be able, knowing what we know now, to write that letter to our younger self but this album recreates Hewerdine’s youth with all the skill of his older age. His own summary of Swimming In Mercury is “Time is precious and this is the music that I needed to make”.

Mike Wistow

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 BOO HEWERDINE – Swimming in Mercury 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.

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Artist’s website: http://boohewerdine.net

‘The Year That I Was Born’:

CAROL FIELDHOUSE – Linen (own label CAROLFIELDHOUSE02)

LinenIt’s not usual for an artist to release a debut album in their sixth decade but Carol Fieldhouse has done just that with Linen. Not that she’s a newbie to the business: she’s a specialist in early music and leader of folk trio Cenote but this is her first album as a solo singer-songwriter. It was produced by Boo Hewerdine who seems to be making a habit of finding new talent to nurture.

Carol has an MA in songwriting but even without knowing that you’d label her as a poet. Three of the songs are co-writes and there is one cover. At her best, Carol can raise a smile or a nod of recognition: the superb opener, ‘A Little Piece Of Land’, is about that peaceful place that we all need. “No mobile phones, a broadband ‘no go’” is one of the choruses while the title track, ‘Linen’, is primly suggestive: “I’m wearing linen now, less crisply pressed/But underneath, well who knows” is the closing couplet, and of course it’s about dancing.

For me, Carol’s up-tempo songs are her strongest. ‘Billy Marshall’ is straight out of the folk tradition – the story of a seventeenth century king of the gypsies – and ‘Residue’ could be full of pain were it not so defiant. These things are in the past, she is saying, let them remain so. Linen is very much guitar driven with Hewerdine and Neill MacColl supporting Carol’s playing and MacColl also plays mandolin and it is his decorations that make the record what it is. The exception is the cover with Jim Watson’s solo piano as Carol sings ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’. It feels like an odd choice but I’m not a Beatles fan so maybe that’s just me. Like most poetry, Linen will repay the attention you give it.

Dai Jeffries

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 CAROL FIELDHOUSE – Linen 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]

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

‘The Wave’ – live with Cenote:

BOO HEWERDINE – BORN (Reveal REVEAL063CDX)

BornRecorded in January, just before his 55th birthday, this five-track EP, limited to just 1000 copies, is something of a family affair in that it features his dad’s old piano and two of the songs are co-writes with his son Ben, who also takes sole credit on the last track. Preceding a new album later this year, it opens in reflective mood with ‘The Year That I Was Born’, opening with an electric pulse and piano before gradually swelling in sound as he recounts the events of 1961, among them the building of the Berlin Wall, the death of Hemingway, the cracking of the genetic code, the emergence of The Beatles, the arrival of Polaris and the trial of Adolph Eichmann in what is, essentially, a song about never knowing how the future will play out.

The first of the father and son tracks, ‘Hometown’ has the same feel, a few simple piano notes backdropping another nostalgic lyric, while the second gets a little livelier on the old fashioned carousel-waltzing ‘Swimming In Mercury’, another memory-based number that, in mentioning both birth and death, seems to be a tribute to both his son and his own father. ‘Bobby Fischer’ recalls seeing the chess legend leave to live in Iceland after being arrested in Japan, ultimately a song about life’s openings and endings, with the EP ending, aptly enough on Ben’s 59-second piano instrumental ‘Farewell’. Very much a walk down memory lane to his early years, it’s very much one of the dedicated fans, serving a possible taster for what lies in store on the new album.

Mike Davies

If you would like to download a copy of the EP or just listen to snippets of selected tracks 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://boohewerdine.net/

‘Hometown’ – video by John Douglas:

EDDI READER – The Best Of Eddi Reader (Reveal REVEAL059CDX)

The Best Of Eddi ReaderThe Best Of Eddi Reader is quite a tall order given the span of time and styles it must encompass – from bright late-80s pop through the soulful solo albums and the Robert Burns collection to her role as an elder statesperson of Scottish music who can take any direction that pleases her. Even thirty tracks doesn’t seem enough. The set isn’t organised in a strict chronological order although it does begin with Fairground Attraction’s two hit singles, ‘Find My Love’ and ‘Perfect’, both written by Mark E Nevin. Compiler Tom Rose has put together the album to engender a sense of “I wonder what’s coming next” while maintaining a coherent feel.

Eddi is a song-writer as well as a performer but she is more than adept at selecting songs to sing and collaborating with other writers. The first of her own songs we hear is ‘Whispers’, also from Fairground Attraction, and with the benefit of hindsight it says a lot about her future. ‘Leezie Lindsay’ is a modernish re-interpretation of Burns’ lyric which comes from the same era as the brilliant ‘Muddy Water’ which Eddi wrote with John McCusker and Boo Hewerdine, a name that crops up many times throughout her career. Sadly Hewerdine’s country waltz, ‘Wings On My Heels’, doesn’t count among my favourite tracks and neither does Eddi’s take on Si Khan’s ‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’ – drama is good but it seems overdone to my ear.

The second disc seems to concentrate on less obvious material, opening with Eddi’s fragile reading of Steve Earle’s ‘My Old Friend The Blues’ and a long, dramatic version of Fred Neil’s ‘Dolphins’. In the midst of all this the traditional ‘Willie Stewart’ springs up to get the party going. As a bonus the second set includes a cover of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Love Is A Losing Game’ and the classic ‘Moon River’.

The Best Of Eddi Reader is an excellent set. If you have one two of her albums it will make you think about the ones you’re missing.

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.eddireader.com

‘Patience Of Angels’ – live on Later:

BOO HEWERDINE – Open (Reveal REVEAL055CDX)

BOO HEWERDINE OpenBack in 2003, Boo Hewerdine recorded a batch of songs but few of them went any further than a master tape. This is the basic Hewerdine, acoustic and mostly solo with some extra vocals from Rosalie Deighton here and there and contributions from Neil MacColl. We might think of them as sophisticated demos as three songs: ‘Geography’, ‘Rags’ and ‘Muddy Water’ later appeared on God Bless The Pretty Things.

Here now are the original studio versions. These are songs which say a lot with the greatest economy of writing. ‘Microfilm’, a song about the painful memories we all have, takes just seventy-eight seconds and there is no need to say any more. ‘Muddy Water’ is gorgeous, almost the album’s production number with MacColl’s electric guitar and Deighton’s voice supporting the fragile lead vocals. There’s slide on ‘Stone In My Shoe’ and Boo adds keyboards for the closer, ‘North & South’. Another stand-out track is ‘1981 #2’ which refers to hearing Graceland playing for the first time – the experience giving rise to The Bible’s first (just about) hit single.

Open is a good companion piece to My Name In The Brackets although the songs that went on to full recording stand out immediately. Other titles, it has to be said, come and go but the album drifts by very nicely and is done before you know it.

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.boohewerdine.net

It’s difficult to find quality video of Boo but this version of ‘Muddy Water’ ticks all the boxes:

Boo Hewerdine – New album

Boo Hewerdine Open

Open released: June 22nd 2015 on Reveal Records

Acclaimed songwriter Boo Hewerdine (The Bible) follows his 2014 released career retrospective My Name In The Brackets and radio single ‘Snowglobe’ with a beautiful new album collecting unreleased recordings made during sessions at Britannia Row Studios in 2003.

Amongst Hewerdine’s collection of “discovered sounds” are early versions of two of his classic songs ‘Muddy Water’ and ‘Geography’. These songs would appear six years later on the much loved God Bless The Pretty Things album. Open also gives fans a chance to hear delicate acoustic studio recordings of concert favorites such as ‘Microfilm’ and ‘Name’. Further evidence that Hewerdine ranks amongst the very best of English songwriters working today.

One of the country’s most consistently admired songwriters’ Folk Radio UK

Classic, melody-driven songs which would have been gobbled up by Tin Pan Alley in another era – a soothing antidote to the frantic madness of modern times” BBC Music

Simple, poetic reflections on life and love” The Guardian

Boo Hewerdine will be touring in June and September.

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.boohewerdine.net

‘Muddy Water’ – Boo Hewedine on Songwriters Circle: