I really liked Georgia Ruth’s 2013 debut album, Week Of Pines. It was refreshing, a record of many moods that she had taken time over. She’s taken her time over her second CD, Fossil Scale, too but this is very different. Georgia Ruth has taken a big step towards the mainstream, moving to a big label, abandoning the harp in favour of piano as the instrument to write on and singing in Welsh only once, on Meic Stevens’ ‘Sylvia’.
Fossil Scale is rooted in Caernarfon where it was written, between the mountains and the sea, and its title is more literal than you might think. Produced by Marta Salogni and David Wrench, its sound is heavily dependent on keyboards and guitars with the addition of sarangi played by Suhail Yusuf Khan and featured on ‘China’. That touch of exoticism feeds into the album in other ways: synth effects and odd bits of found sound. The opening track is the single, ‘The Doldrums’, suitably radio-friendly but I find ‘Cloudbroke’, ‘When I Was Blue’ and ‘The Bodies’ much more interesting.
‘Ice Age’ is particularly good and I do have a fondness for Meic Stevens’ work. ‘Sylvia’ is the most conventional song on the album with a gently ringing electric guitar but my favourite is ‘Supermoon’ which begins as a pretty song but takes off into a flight of fancy with percussion and chanted vocals.
Fossil Scale is a big step forward for Georgia Ruth and I hope it’s as sure-footed as she believes it to be. She has gained a lot of experience over the last few years, including time spent in Kolkata, and this a confident piece of work.
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Welsh singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Georgia Ruth has announced a new album Fossil Scale, due for release on October 7, 2016 via Navigator Records. The record is the follow up to 2013’s Welsh Music Prize winning Week Of Pines – a feat Georgia never contemplated she’d achieve for her critically acclaimed, bilingual debut album. The record prompted The Guardian to tip her as ‘One of the British folk discoveries of the year’, with Georgia going on to be twice nominated in the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, alongside radio support across Radio 1 and BBC 6 Music. UK live dates to support the release of Fossil Scale are expected to be announced shortly.
Switching out her previous go-to writing tool – the harp – for a piano in search of a more expansive yet ambient sound, Georgia headed into the familiar setting of Snowdonia’s Bryn Derwen Studio in January 2015, to lay down the foundations of what would become Fossil Scale. When the sale of the studio just 5 days into recording threw plans awry, recording time was then split between studios in London and Cardiff – in the case of the latter, at friends and collaborators Manic Street Preachers’ Faster Studios (Georgia sung on ‘Divine Youth’, a track that featured on the Manics’ Futurology album). The album was finally pieced together in Mwnci Studios, co-produced with Italian producer Marta Salogni (Phil Selway, Eliot Sumner) and long-time collaborator David Wrench (Caribou, Bat For Lashes) some 11 months after those initial sessions began.
Talking of ‘The Doldrums’, Ruth says;
“The Doldrums was one of the first songs I wrote for the album. I’d just moved to Caernarfon, and had become totally transfixed by the view out over the Menai Straits (a narrow stretch of tidal water about 16 miles long that separates mainland Gwynedd from Anglesey). It was absolutely beautiful. But there was something that felt ominous, something to do with the stillness of the water. And this sort of chimed with how I’d been feeling; the sometimes disconcerting stillness of being happy! According to people who sail, the doldrums are a sea-state of mild inactivity, stagnation. It’s caused by low pressure and heating at the equator. My dad was in the merchant navy as a young man, and he confirmed that the looming threat of those parts of the Pacific sea are really unnerving. Coleridge has this amazing description of them in the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner: “Day after day, day after day, we stuck, nor breath nor motion; as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.””
There are no videos from the new album yet but this is ‘Hwylio’ live at The Covent last year.
Here’s another selection of videos that have come our way recently, mostly with albums in the offing. First on Video Wall 2 is Seth Lakeman from his forthcoming Ballad Of The Broken Few. This is the title track live from Torre Abbey featuring Wildwood Kin.
This is ‘Free Range’ by Nottingham band Gallery47. It comes from their album Clean which is released in November.
Here’s Bendith, a new collaboration between Welsh bands Colorama and Plu. ‘Danybanc’ is the single from their eponymous album which is absolutely wonderful but you’ll have to wait until October to get your hands on a copy.
Shovels & Rope are a duo from South Carolina. ‘I Know’ is from their new album Little Seeds which is also out in October. This is fun.
In October 2015, the record-breaking cyclist James Bowthorpe set out to build a boat from the debris and discarded materials found on the streets of Manhattan. He then took the boat to the source of the Hudson, a tiny pond called Lake Tear Of The Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains and sailed all 315 miles of the Hudson River, through ice, snow, and grade-four white water to return the boat, made solely from New York City’s waste, to its place of origin. This film uses the single ‘Tides’ by Dan Michaelson And The Coastguards to illustrate James’ not always trouble-free journey.
Finally, this is all we have as a taster for singer/harpist Georgia Ruth’s new album Fossil Scale, out in November. This is ‘The Doldrums’.