Canadian Juno award winning songwriter Amelia Curran reveals plans for new album Watershed, due for UK release on 21st April, through Six Shooter Records, following 2014’s critically acclaimed They Promised You Mercy.
Amelia Curran is a songwriter, activist and mental health advocate from St. John’s, Newfoundland. Curran’s music is distinguished by her intricate and elliptical lyrics, geologic in their resilience and oceanic in their depths. Over the course of a decade, Curran has built a shoreline of song, a place of radical, perpetual collision of matter and form. As she leads us to the ever-eroding lip of the abyss, Curran’s music helps us make sense of the heart’s imperceptible, relentless attrition.
In Canada, Curran has won or been nominated for JUNO Awards for three consecutive albums now and is firmly established as one of the country’s preeminent poetic songwriters. Outside of Canada, Curran’s work has made an impression; both the BBC’s Bob Harris and Folk Alley’s Linda Fahey, two influential engines of folk music discovery and appreciation, have recognized Curran’s work. In spite of its small-scale international release They Promised You Mercy, Curran’s last album, received 4 star reviews in The Telegraph, Mojo and Maverick Magazine. Curran has toured regularly in the UK and Europe, and her appearances in the USA have included showcases at Folk Alliance and AmericanaFest. Watershed, Curran’s newest album, marks a threshold and a directional change. The tenor of this new album is openness (not to be confused with optimism), a reflection in part of Curran’s increasingly public efforts to battle the stigma of mental health issues in the arts. As a whole, the album calls for compassion and unification as a breakwater against the sea of cruelties we inflict upon each other, and upon ourselves.
If you wish for an exemplar of the adage that less is more look no further than Tricks Of The Trade, the debut album from the duo of John Dipper and Dave Malkin. John is a maker and restorer of concertinas which may surprise those who know him only as a player of instruments of the bow and string persuasion with, for example, Methera. His trade goes some way to explaining the cover picture and the title which in full should be “don’t learn the tricks of the trade, learn the trade”. Dave is a singer and guitarist – a fine soloist and a remarkable accompanist.
Dave plays just guitar on this album whilst John plays only viola d’amore in a tuning variation of his own which can give the music a very baroque feel or sound like a regular fiddle. There are just two guest appearances. Tom Dennis plays flugelhorn on one track and Corrie Dick adds percussion to two, the latter being foot percussion on a set topped and tailed by two Quebecois tunes.
The opening track is ‘Wine & Women’, a triple-time hornpipe in which the two instruments duet on equal terms with each one taking it in turns to be the “leader”. That’s followed by the rather gloomy ‘King Storm’ sung as a lullaby over pizzicato viola d’amore and paired with a Playford tune, ‘Daniel Cowper’ which is where the flugelhorn comes in. ‘The King Of Poland’ is technically a jig, and the expected rhythm emerges from time to time although you probably wouldn’t want to dance to it.
‘Gravity’ and ‘Flower Of Kent’ are two of John’s tunes, the latter being given a particularly involved setting. The second song is ‘All Things Are Quite Silent’ which manages to keep the pastoral simplicity of the piece despite a rich accompaniment and finally we have Dave’s extensive rewrite of ‘The Parting Glass’ with a few modern twists. Tricks Of The Trade is an album of stunning musicianship without a single dull note.