Fran Wyburn releases her debut album next month

Fran Wyburn
Photograph by Maria Spadafora

After two successful EPs (Little Moments, 2014 and Postcards, 2016) produced by Toby Davies (Jorja Smith, Maverick Sabre, Gentlemans Dub Club) of which Folk Radio UK said of Postcards a ‘captivating listen and one I could happily lose myself in…’ Fran Wyburn is releasing her much anticipated debut album Wood For The Trees, 2nd March 2018 under her own label Yellow Door Records.

December 2017 saw the first single release from the album, ‘Foolish Sea’, where the music video (see below) was premiered on Folk Radio UK and received substantial airplay across the folk world.

Working with specialist folk and roots producer Dan Webster, Fran and musical collaborator George Birkett recorded the album over summer 2017.

Webster’s production perfectly brings to life the subtlety in the arrangements and the authentic and heart felt character of Fran’s music. The album takes us on an intimate and emotional journey of personal growth through life experience. Fran says she wants the album to be like ‘listening to a friend, snuggled up under blankets in front a fire and sipping tea’.

The songs are diverse and always offer something new displaying the full breadth of Fran’s writing. As an artist she is unafraid to stand alone with just her voice and guitar, as in ‘Me And Me’ and ‘Sorry Heart’. She takes you to extremes with dreamy joyful upbeat songs such as ‘Happy Forever After’ and ‘Mr Blackbird’. These songs demonstrate the full extent of her playful side and are in contrast to the more pensive and sombre songs like ‘Set Sail’ and ‘Pass On By’, where the piano becomes an instrument of harnessing a more darker energy to her music.

The album also offers cleverly and intricately arranged tracks with soaring ethereal multiple harmonies (Rosie Evans), tender cello (Rachel Brown), and sophisticated guitar (George Birkett), as in ‘Snowdrops’ and ‘Me’, ‘Rumi Said’ and ‘Foolish Sea’.

Fran’s musical collaborator George Birkett is an incredible folk guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, singer and arranger whose guitar plays a central voice to the album. His wonderful finger picking skill and her pure toned voice weave in and out of each other like an enchanting dance which complements the striking melodies and curious rhythms inherent in the album.

The album will launch with a live performance at Trinity Church in Fran’s home city, Leeds on March 1st (Ticket link Fran will then complete a UK tour of unusual venues and spaces – from front rooms to libraries and garden sheds– promoting community engagement and inclusivity, things very close to her heart.

Wood For The Trees establishes Fran as an artist who has proved her weight in songwriting and it is no doubt that she has something new to offer the contemporary folk scene.

Her sound is idiosyncratic, conversational, melodically enticing and harmonically captivating. Forging a new sound that nods its head at alt folk whilst embracing influences from world music and sombre pop, Fran never fails to intrigue, entice and stimulate.

Inspired by the 1960’s folk revival, her style is current, original and spirited. She cites influences as wide as Joni Mitchell, Agnes Obel, Rokia Traroe. Kimya Dawson and Laura Mvula.

After working for many years in London Fran packed her life away, brought a guitar and traveled the world busking her way around it. Teaching herself as she went she started writing songs about her experiences and returned with a dream to be a touring a songwriter! Honing her craft at Leeds College of Music in a Masters in Composition and working with Ian Archer (Snow Patrol, Jake Bug, Gabrielle Aplin). Fran has finished a tour this winter of packed festivals and gigs including The Great British Folk Festival, Folk East, Green Gathering and Equinox.

Artist’s website:

‘Foolish Sea’ – official video:


A round-up of recent EPs and singles with compliments of the season

Singles Bar 25WOLFNOTE are a new trio from Berkshire making their debut with an EP, Frightened Of Your Own F#. The three female members, Bex, Gill and Ceri, have strong voices and harmonise well and between them play guitar, violin, cello, dulcimer and recorders and their silent partner, Mike, plays guitar, bass and cajon. The record starts with a cover of Dylan’s ‘Girl From The North Country’ taken a little more quickly than most people do – it can drag, sometimes. The other songs are originals and ‘Love And Light’ is particularly good. The production is excellent, concentrating on the voices with the instrumental leads clear and bright. A name to watch.

‘The Tug Of The Moon’ is the first single to be taken from If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, the forthcoming album by SARAH McQUAID. This could be the only song ever inspired by Newton’s third law of motion and its effect on sidereal time.  Behind the science is the thought that we are all spinning towards the end of the universe and perhaps we should make the most of our time. Sarah creates a wonderful sound with fingerpicked electric guitar drenched in reverb.

While her new band settles in DARIA KULESH releases a single supported by two of her duo partners, Jonny Dyer and Marina Osman. ‘Vasilisa’ is an old Russian fairy tale from a book that Daria read as a child and still has. The story contains certain elements of Cinderella but far nastier and involves a supposedly deadly errand, the famous witch Baba Yaga and some unpleasant deaths. It has the mysterious air of Daria’s other Russian adaptations with the drone of a shruti box, dramatic piano, percussion and bouzouki.

It’s that time of year, so folk have been getting into the festive mood for seasonal singles. First up comes the rather lovely download (from the usual sources) only ‘What Will Christmas Be’, a melancholic piano (Danny Mitchell) and cello (Chelsea McGough) ballad duet from BEN GLOVER and NATALIE SCHLAB about absence and loss at a time traditionally about being together, set off with a final peal of bells.

Season Bright is a seasonal EP from EMILY EWING & ROBERT LANE. Robert is well known to folking readers and Emily is a singer-songwriter with a download EP to her name and a growing reputation. The lead tracks begins with Robert and Emily lamenting the fact that they’ll be spending Christmas alone (surely not) and moves on to the exhortation to “keep your loved ones near” over some lovely ringing electric guitar. The other tracks are the guitar-led ‘Get You’ and ‘Own It’, built around Emily’s piano. Available from iTunes.

Jo Whitby aka LAURENCE MADE ME CRY mirrors the mood with her download single ‘It’s Not You, It’s Christmas’ (from her bandcamp site), a slow walking fuzzed reverb guitar (sounding like a kazoo on acid) and drums ditty about choosing to spend the festivities alone at home, although she still wishes everyone seasonal cheer.

SKINNY LISTER also get into the act with ‘Christmas Calls’ (XtraMile), an epic sounding arms-linked swayalong anthem very much in the Pogues ‘Fairytale’ mould, complete with military drums, bells and whistles.

From last year’s Edison Gloriette album, JESS MORGAN releases download Jay Chakravorty remix of the Moonstruck-inspired ‘Come To The Opera With Me Loretta’ (Drabant Music) that removes the piano, putting more focus on the vocals and giving it an anthemic seasonal synths and drums shimmer makeover.

Away from the holly and ivy,Yorkshire’s FRAN WYBURN self-releases ‘Foolish Sea’, George Birkett’s fingerpicking and Rachel Brown’s cello backdropping her pure, little girl vocals on a quirky tale of unrequited love that serves as a taster to her forthcoming album.

There is not so much Christmas spirit but an awful lot of pain in ‘Love Left Lost’, the second single from Brighton-based singer-songwriter JOSH McGOVERN. Quite which subterranean depths that voice comes from is hard to say but the tragedy is delivered over minimal acoustic and with soulful backing vocals on the choruses.

To mark the twentieth anniversary of the death of blues guitarist LUTHER ALLISON Ruf records have released a limited edition eleven disc box set of his later work. As a taster there is a 7” vinyl single: ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ and ‘Night Life’. The lead track starts with a deceptively simple Hammond organ and Luther waits until the chorus comes round for the band to kick in and then it takes off with some wonderful “doo-de-doo” backing vocals.