THE CHANGING ROOM – Picking Up The Pieces (TCR Music TCRM75068)

picking up the piecesA fluid Cornish collective built around the constant foundation of Sam Kelly and Tanya Brittain who share vocals and play guitar/bass/piano and accordion, respectively, Picking Up The Pieces, their second album sees them joined by Jamie Francis on banjo, percussionist Evan Carson and Morrigan Palmer Brown on harp with various contributions from Kevin McGuire (upright bass), John McCusker (fiddle) and Belinda O’Hooley (piano).

As with their debut, it’s firmly rooted in Cornish soil, something underlined from the start with traditional-sounding album opener ‘Caradon Hill’, a portrait of life above and below ground for the miners and their families in what was once the UK’s biggest copper mine, it’s decline presaged in the lyrics as, McCusker’s fiddle providing the spine, it builds to the a cappela coda.

Moving to Polperro, the sprightly’ Zephaniah Job’, the pair alternating vocals, tells of the 18th century Cornish entrepreneur who, though always mindful of making a profit, served as benefactor to the local fishermen, smugglers and schoolchildren alike. Talking of smugglers, ‘The Grayhound’, sung by Kelly with McCusker on fiddle and whistle and Francis’s banjo bolstering the arrangement, is an account of the three-master privateer charged by the government with chasing down smugglers’ ships, though the chorus line about pillaging and raiding the south Cornish coast suggests its crew may well have exceeded their mandate.

Co-penned by Brittain and Boo Hewardine, just as Louise Jordan’s latest turns the spotlight on the role of women during WWI, ‘Bal Maiden’s Waltz’ details the generally overlooked contribution of women and girls to the Cornish mining industry, Kelly adding cittern to his guitar parts with Brittain taking lilting lead on a song about how the so-called ‘bal maidens’ would crush, grind and break down the ore sent up from the mine before going home to feed the families, go dancing and break hearts.

Penned by Brittain, but sung by Kelly, featuring harp, harmonium, fiddle and upright bass, ‘Gwrello Glaw (Let It Rain)’ is the first of two numbers in Cornish, a reflective song about living life to the full regardless of what storms come your way. This is followed by the more musically energetic ‘The Cinder Track’, a driving banjo and guitar led stomp forming a sort of tarmac shanty in tribute to the men who build the roads. One of two numbers not penned by band members, ‘Koh-I-Noor’ is, simply arranged for guitar, banjo and accordion, a waltzing Hewardine composition, a musing on mortality drawing comparison between the lengthy existence of the titular diamond and the brief lives of those who coveted and killed for it.

Kelly provides the music for the second of the Cornish numbers, a gently rippling and tumbling airy treatment of the traditional ‘Delyow Sevi’ (winner of Best Traditional Song in a Celtic Language at the 2015 International Pan Celtic Song Contest), the duo sharing vocal duties, Carson tapping out percussion while harp shimmers throughout.

The running order reversed on the sleeve and lyric sheet, ‘Tie ‘Em Up’ is Geoff Lakeman’s rhythmically itchy protest against successive governments’ imposition of EU-agreed fishing quotas and the cost to Cornish fishermen and their families, followed by the sombre and sober anti-war ‘We Will Remember Them’, a track which also appears on their forthcoming Armistice Day commemorative EP, The Names on the Wall, O’Hooley accompanying Kelly on piano.

The album ends with another duo composition, ‘It’s All Downhill From Here’, a lively banjo bouncing singalong romp (again referencing the copper mines of Caradon) celebrating the men who built the railroads, even if the title hints that this was the peak of the Industrial Revolution.

If Seth Lakeman was the vanguard of the revival of Cornwall as a bastion of the contemporary folk scene, The Changing Room are leading the pincer movement.

Mike Davies

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 THE CHANGING ROOM – Picking Up The Pieces 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]

Artists’ website: www.thechangingroommusic.com

Jon Cleave and The Oggymen moonlight as Cornish wreckers in new single

WreckersThe Changing Room will release a new single `Wreckers‘  on 5th January. The first single from the band’s eagerly anticipated debut album, the song features Fisherman’s Friends front man Jon Cleave and Falmouth-based performers The Oggymen.

Jon Cleave’s dark and atmospheric lead vocal lends a theatrical quality to this musical tale about the sinister underbelly of old Cornwall. The Port Isaac-based mustachioed author has been performing with shanty group Fishermen’s Friends for over fifteen years, and has performed at the Royal Albert Hall and the BBC Folk Awards.

The Changing Room band member Sam Kelly said: “Jon Cleave’s vocal on ‘Wreckers’ can only be described as epic.”

The Oggymen, a twelve-strong a capella singing group has gone from strength to strength over the past year, having performed to capacity crowds at the Hall for Cornwall and Minack Theatre in recent months.

“We invited The Oggymen to appear on ‘Wreckers’. They were so good that they ended up on four of our album tracks” laughs songwriter Tanya Brittain.

“As a taster for the new album ‘Wreckers’ certainly does the business”, writes folking.com’s Dai Jeffries. “The timeless pastoral feel of A River Runs Between is replaced by a the darkness of Jon Cleave’s growling lead vocal and the slightly ghostly echoing chorus of The Oggymen. Sam Kelly’s voice provides a hint of light in the dark – isn’t that how wreckers worked? Once again we’re left on tenterhooks with just one new track and there are still three or four months to wait for the album.”

The Changing Room’s forthcoming album, Behind The Lace, due for release in spring, promises more fabulously evocative original songs inspired by other Cornish preoccupations such as sharks, pilchards, real ale, dancing and rowing. Tanya and Sam are Joined on the album by Jamie Francis, Evan Carson, John McCusker, and Kevin McGuire.

‘Wreckers’ is now available to pre-order on iTunes. For more information about the band and their music visit: thechangingroommusic.com

Fisherman’s Friend enters The Changing Room

New Chaning Room

The Changing Room’s debut EP A River Runs Between has created quite a stir. Released at the end of September, it’s already attracted Radio 2 airplay, positive reviews calling for ‘more’, and a queue of willing guest performers wanting to get involved in the forthcoming debut album.

At the front of that queue was Fisherman’s Friends frontman Jon Cleave who joined the band in the studio in Truro, Cornwall in October to add guest vocals to two of the album tracks.

The Changing Room is a joint project between singer/songwriter Tanya Brittain and musician/vocalist Sam Kelly, and promises to be one of the most exciting new folk collaborations of 2014. Tanya manages to weave deeply evocative narrative around enchanting and addictive melodies, and Sam has one of the best young male voices in British roots music. Together they conjure up magic.

The Changing Room was featured on Mark Radcliffe’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Show on 15th October. The show finished with ‘A River Runs Between’ … nestled between Bellowhead live in the studio, and the U2 sessions at Maida Vale.

Other guest performers on the album will include Kevin McGuire, Jamie Francis, Polperro Fishermen’s Choir, Jennifer Crook, and Falmouth-based shanty group The Oggymen. Adding to an already impressive line-up, The Changing Room’s first album will be produced by Boo Hewerdine and mixed by Jon Kelly.

Sam and Tanya are working hard to complete the album (which they hope to release in late December/early January) so that they can share more of their original music with their growing band of followers.

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.

Artists’ website: www.thechangingroommusic.com

EP REVIEWS

“This record just isn’t long enough and I’m relieved to read that a full length album is on the way.” Folking.com

“From the first track ‘A River Runs Between’, I knew that I was in for a treat. The only issue I have with The Changing Room’s EP is that I want to hear more of their music – three tracks is a great taster, and I look forward to the main course when the full album is released.” Alan Morley, UK Folk Music

“It feels like a little musical magic happened.”   Dai Jeffries

 “It does my heart good to hear a project that’s speak to Cornwall, from Cornwall and about Cornwall. It pushes all the right buttons in evoking a soundscape that reflects the sea, the sky and the people of the West … hats off to all involved.”  Sam Lakeman

Eddi Reader: new EP

Back The DogsEddi Reader releases a new five song EP Back The Dogs on November 3rd. Featuring four well chosen covers alongside Back The Dogs from her highly acclaimed 2014 album Vagabond (Reveal Records).

“One of the great voices in British music” Acoustic magazine

Recorded by Mark Freegard in Glasgow, Juxtaposed With U (Super Furry Animals) and Love Is A Losing Game (Amy Winehouse) feature Eddi singing and producing accompanied by Scottish songwriter (and husband) John Douglas of Trashcan Sinatras.

Also included on the new release are emotive versions of the Evans/Livingston standard Mona Lisa and Moon River (the latter produced by Boo Hewerdine and featuring Eddi with full orchestra). Moon River has played a central part in her concerts over the last couple of years. It recently became a huge hit with audiences attending this years Vagabond concerts when Eddi extended the piece to include stories of her musical childhood experiences at family parties in Glasgow tenement flats.

Eddi Reader will take to the road in October for the final shows of her 2014 Vagabond tour (see dates below) joined by her incredible band which includes Irish accordionist Alan Kelly, John Douglas (guitar and vocals), Kevin McGuire (bass) and English songwriter / guitarist Boo Hewerdine.

2014 has been another successful year for Eddi Reader with many high profile concerts and appearances for national radio and television including Jools Holland, Cambridge Folk Festival 50th Anniversary, Question Time, Terry Wogan and Andrew Marr Shows. Her music was also used in the closing credits for this summers Glasgow Commonwealth Games. An interview by Neil McCormick for the Vintage TV channel airs in September online.

MOJO **** R2 ***** Record Collector ****  The Herald ****

Irish Times Album of the Week **** Folk Radio UK Album of the Month

If you would like to order a copy of the EP, 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.

Artist’s website: www.eddireader.com

KATE RUSBY – While Mortals Sleep (Pure Records PRCD34)

KATE RUSBY – While Mortals Sleep

Only 292 days to Christmas…

Avoiding the cliché of echoing the ending of each line of “Cranbrook” (“While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night”) set to its original melody and pinched by Yorkshire for the setting of “On Ilkley Moor Baht’at” this jaunty start to Kate’s second seasonal offering proves a joyous bundle of fun. Joined by the Brass Quintet Boys ensemble this proves a judicious addition to Rusby’s band featuring Damien O’Kane (guitar), Ed Boyd (bouzouki), Julian Sutton (diatonic accordion) and Kevin McGuire/Duncan Lyall (double bass). To be perfectly honest the collaboration of brass arrangements coupled with a ‘folk music’ background creates such a feel-good factor that I’m surprised Simon Cowell hasn’t cashed in on it. With its mixture of traditional (“Little Town Of Bethlehem”), contemporary (“Kris Kringle”) and Kate’s evocative “Home” there isn’t a duff track here. All right, so everyone by now must know how popular Christmas is for me musically speaking with over 100 albums and counting and so it proves with a majority of not only performers but their audiences as well. Along with my James Taylor ‘At Christmas’ and The Spinners ‘Sing Out, Shout With Joy’ recordings this is by far and above the best representation of any seasonal offering I have the pleasure to own and goes without saying that you should purchase a copy to put yourself in a good mood whatever time of year you play it. A 100% (Christmas) cracker!

PETE FYFE

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.

http://www.katerusby.com