Hampshire singer/songwriter Darren Black announces his new solo album

Darren Black

Wisperau is the new album from Darren Black. Consisting of vocals, acoustic guitar and fiddle, and recorded over Spring/Summer of 2017, it is an album about the Seasons. Darren says of it:

Wisperau is my journey through Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn, with a nod to the Hampshire countryside in which I live. A song and a pair of fiddle tunes for each season – timely in their arrival but each dealing an increasingly unpredictable hand. I can remember weeks of snow in the Winter, months of parched lawn in the Summer. Odds were still on for a white Christmas. Mixed grassland with livestock grazing on pasture, hedgerows and hedgehogs. But, everything changes over time and this isn’t a misty-eyed reflection on what has been, more an appreciation of what still is. I love the transition, the colours and the contrast, the native and migrating birds. Each season has its own distinct charm and beauty, and that is what inspired me to write and record this album.”

Contemporary, yet rooted in the acoustic folk tradition, Darren’s music has a unique sound which captured the attention of the British Library where it is now stored for preservation in the National Sound Archive. His first album Silent Poetry was recorded in 2007 at legendary fiddle player Dave Swarbrick’s home studio and gained rave reviews. His 2008 follow-up Thinkers & Fools went a step further, featuring a smorgasbord of guest musicians including Joe Broughton, Kevin Dempsey and Dave Swarbrick. 2014’s Rise Above The Mumblings was recorded with Kevin Dempsey at the controls and on guest guitar. Lord Abergavenny’s Hills was released in 2015. Also featuring Lennie Harvey on slide guitar it is based around stories and tales from the South Wales mining industry where Darren was born and where his grandfather worked for nearly a quarter of a century.

Aside from his solo work, he was in Black Peak which he formed with ex-Bluehorses fiddle player Deborah Peake. Their album In Times Back When was released in 2011, having previously been runners-up for Best Debut in the Spiral Earth Awards. He has also guested on other recordings including Naomi Bedford’s album Tales From The Weeping Willow, which also features Paul Heaton, Alasdair Roberts, Justin Currie and Paul Simmonds.

Darren is also part of the In A South Downs Way cast. This is a performance of dialogue, poetry and music – singing alongside actors Hugh Bonneville, Christopher Timothy and Juliet Howland. It is a show based around composer Damian Montagu’s album of the same name, also featuring ex Paul Weller sideman Stewart Prosser and the Tippett Quartet. It premiered two sell-out shows at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester in late 2016.

Wisperau will be released with an intimate show at the Hyde Tavern, Winchester on Friday 6th October 2017. See Darren’s website for details and tickets.

Until then, here is an oldie from the folking archive:

Artist’s website: www.darrenblack.net

DARREN BLACK – Lord Abergavenny’s Hills (own label DBCD004)

LAHDarren Black is well-known in these parts: a musician who has paid more than enough dues to merit some real recognition. I’ve heard him in small cellar bars and on the big stage, supporting Buffy Sainte Marie. This could be the album to do it for him.

Lord Abergavenny’s Hills is an area of land around Blaenavon and the album tells the story of the rise and fall of the mining industry in the area with big stories and small tales. The opening track, ‘Intro: Before The Revolution’, is a pastoral piece representing the land before the miners came. It’s very simple with Darren multi-tracking his acoustic guitars and sets the style of the album. Later, Darren plays also fiddle and percussion and Lennie Harvey adds resonator and Weisenborn to two tracks.

‘The Head Man’ is one of the small tales, the story of the Blaenavon Ironworks from 1794 and something of a rarity – a benevolent ironmaster. Darren immediately changes the scale with ‘Pig Iron’ telling of the first industrialisation which began in 1789 and changed the face of that part of south Wales for two centuries. ‘Tell It To The Cow’ is another amusing small tales and ‘The Enemy Within’ is …well, you don’t need me to explain it.

The contrast between Darren’s clean, stripped back style and the history of heavy industry is quite stark and gives the album a little edge. One track I have reservations about is ‘Hats Off To The Rest’. Admittedly there is an element of slapstick comedy about some of the ways in which death came but, although Darren notes that he didn’t want the song to be morbid, I find the light-heartedness rather jarring. That said, Lord Abergavenny’s Hills is an excellent album.

Dai Jeffries

Artist’s website: www.darrenblack.net

DARREN BLACK – Rise Above The Mumblings (own label DBCD003)

DBRATMRise Above The Mumblings is singer/songwriter Darren Black’s third solo album and his first for six years having worked for the last few years with Deborah Peake as Black Peak. I’ve heard him a few times and enjoyed what he’s done in what felt like his usual role as a go-to support act in these parts. That’s grossly unfair, of course, but his profile has never been terribly high.

Darren plays finger style guitar and fiddle and has pared back his sound on this album to the very basics. He plucks a little violin and producer Kevin Dempsey adds some lead guitar on four of the ten tracks but otherwise it’s just voice and guitar. Dempsey’s contributions are restrained and immaculate but you’d expect that, of course. The songs are deceptively simple and easily accessible but sometimes you have to drill down for his meaning – or perhaps that should be your meaning; the meaning you take from his poetry. Continue reading DARREN BLACK – Rise Above The Mumblings (own label DBCD003)

JIM MORAY – folking live concert review…

JIM MORAY, Black Peak: 
Folking Live at Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park, Bracknell – October 24th 2012.

Reviewed by Colin Bailey.

It was the first time a Folking Live event had taken place in the august surroundings of the Wilde Theatre at South Hill Park, and expectations were high. We even applauded promoter Phil Daniels as he came on stage to introduce the evening. For this auspicious occasion the support act were Continue reading JIM MORAY – folking live concert review…