Underhill Rose announce new live album – touring now

Underhill Rose
Photograph by Sandlin Gaither

Harmonies. Soul-touching lyrics. Eye-catching stage presence. Underhill Rose has become synonymous with beautiful music, charming personalities, and rippling success. In the last four years, the boot-wearing trio from Asheville, North Carolina has independently released two albums which have reached the upper reaches of the Americana Music Association Airplay Chart and Roots Music Report Chart, all the while garnering critical acclaim from around the globe. It’s full steam ahead for these female troubadours as they release their first live recording in spring 2017 with a corresponding tour in the United States, Ireland and the UK.

Over two starry September nights in 2016, the authentic, live sound of Underhill Rose was captured in their home state. “I’ve always wanted to create a stripped-down album of our trio that captures the magic of our live performances” says band co-founder and guitarist Molly Rose. The trio played two shows each night – including their original compositions and a few crowd-favourite cover songs – to riveted audiences. “It was wonderful to be surrounded by some of our biggest fans”, says bassist Salley Williamson. Band co-founder and Deering-endorsing banjoist Eleanor Underhill adds “the beauty of the album is that it highlights our voices and showcases our lyricism in a way that you have never heard in any of our prior recordings.”

Featuring original songs from their three studio albums, Underhill Rose’s Live covers the depth and joy of nearly a decade of musical partnership. By removing the bells and whistles of past recordings, Underhill Rose reveals the fundamental elements of their sound: a powerful trio in full bloom. The first track, ‘Who Brought the Sun’, highlights Rose’s lyrical poeticism and soaring vocal performance, the song resolving in a dreamy a cappella chorus. Next, a visit to the ‘Whispering Pines Motel’, for Underhill’s noirish tale of romantic longing. Track three, “They Got My Back,” is bass player Williamson’s tribute to the supportive community in which she was raised. Similar to the group’s prior albums, the live album features all three songwriters of Underhill Rose.

In a divergent move from past albums, the live collection also includes several crowd-favourite covers, with each band member taking a turn at the helm. After a charming interchange between Rose and her grandmother sitting in the front row, Rose’s gentle lilt spins the 80’s pop tune ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ into a piece more akin to contemplative folk. Williamson debuts her lead vocal with confidence and sass on ‘These Boots Are Made for Walkin’’, and Underhill sheds a new light on John Prine’s ‘Long Monday’ with thoughtful yet melancholic vocals and harmonica. Well loved by crowds, ‘Trouble in Mind’ begins with the band’s signature three-part harmony before launching into high gear.

Underhill Rose Live acts partly as a “best of” collection, showcasing the breadth of the trio’s catalogue in a stripped-down style that sounds and feels live. ‘Love Looks Good on You’ ponders true happiness and is glittered with Underhill’s harmonica, while ‘Little House’ showcases carefully crafted vocal harmonies.

The fifteen song album – printed on ethically sourced materials and featuring original artwork by Molly Rose – is a true homage to the ascendant trio’s roots.

Artists’ website: http://www.underhillrose.com/

‘Whispering Pines Motel’ live:

KARA live at The Convent

Kara live

The Convent used to be just that. It was bought in a semi-derelict condition a few years ago and is now a hotel, spa, studio and music venue – still a work in progress and delightfully eccentric. The owners have kept the ecclesiastical fixtures and the décor is now a blend of religion and rock’n’roll. Its only drawback is that it is high on a hill accessed via impossibly narrow lanes which were fine when the Poor Clares were in residence but are hardly suited to 21st century traffic.

The theatre itself is the first floor chapel and it was here that Kara chose to launch their second album, Some Other Shore on June 3rd. Because all the Convent’s gigs are streamed live there are no intervals and Daria Kulesh’s decision to be her own support put her under some pressure. She was worried about her voice and, accompanied by Jonny Dyer on guitar and keyboards she began with less upbeat songs from her first solo album, Eternal Child before she hit her stride with ‘At Midnight’. The final two songs are scheduled for her second album. ‘The Moon And The Pilot’ has already been heard and ‘Amanat’ will be heard many times. Both are rooted in 19th and 20th century history and politics which are major preoccupations for Daria at the moment. I won’t even try to explain to intricacies of the songs but the album they are destined for will be a major work.

The band joined Daria on stage to begin their set with ‘Rusalka’ from their debut album before starting on the new one with ‘Tamara’s Wedding’ and James Delarre in a guest role on fiddle. I was very impressed with the new material and the excellent sound balance. No one instrument dominated – except Daria’s voice, of course, and sometimes she was at her most theatrical. This was only the third gig for new box-player Phil Underwood and he has fitted in well: just two CDs and a few other songs to learn in less than six months so no pressure. His predecessor, Gary Holbrook, came from the Irish tradition but Phil is very English as his set of tunes, ‘Hollingbourne/Broadhurst Gardens’ proved. That said, he’s an expert in Cajun and Creole music which could make for an interesting fusion in time to come.

Inevitably, it is Daria that dominates on stage, but the writing is democratic. Even so, Ben Honey has been affected by her mystique. ‘Adrienne’ is a song set in England but which belongs in Kara-land, as does ‘Carousel Waltz’ but Ben pins the blame for ‘Stormteller’ on Douglas Adams. There was one Russian song, ‘Misery And Vodka’, which began with a stunning hammered dulcimer solo from Kate Rouse who also wrote ‘Black Tea Waltz’.  They admitted that their encore ‘Start Wearing Purple’ was un-rehearsed and even un-arranged but it was fun. And then it was down to the bar!

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to download a copy of the album or just listen to snippets of selected tracks 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.karafolkband.com

Some Other Shore showreel:

STEEL THREADS – Live EP (own label)

STLiveAfter two studio albums folk-rock duo Steel Threads release a seven-track live EP, a record that they believe best represents their real sound. Four of the songs can be found on their debut album, Timing Is Everything, two come from For Those Who Are Left, and one, ‘Over Before You Begun’, is new.

If you haven’t encountered the band before, Neil Wardleworth plays guitar and does most of the writing and lead vocals and Laura Wilcockson plays fiddle and sings harmony. In the studio Neil also plays bass drum and they employ a bass player. He keeps the drum for live performances. For this set, they have eschewed their more delicate songs apart from the new composition which is gorgeous. ‘Let The Wind Blow’ starts out with great restraint but picks up the power and its ending is quite stunning with Laura’s mournful violin matching Neil’s impassioned vocals.

The record opens with ‘Nothing To Hide’ and ‘Last Nights Love’ from the first album. Neil and Laura have left just enough of the applause and chat in to remind us that this is a live recording. The sound is very powerful but clean and it was only on the fourth or fifth play that I realised that Neil sounds a bit like Mark Chadwick on ‘It Goes On’. In fact, a stripped-down Levellers is not a bad comparison.

Dai Jeffries

 

MEGSON: new Album – Megson L I V E

MegsonLiveStu Hanna (Vocals, Octave Mandola, Banjo, Guitar) & Debbie Hanna (Vocals, Accordion, Whistle) are the husband & wife duo MEGSON.

Named after a dead dog and comprising a former punk and classically trained soprano, MEGSON were an unusual commodity on the London acoustic scene of the early noughties. In 2004 they quietly released their debut album ON THE SIDE on their own EDJ label. Not expecting much, they quickly won fans in Radio 2 DJ Bob Harris and the then rising star of the UK Folk Scene Seth Lakeman. Radio sessions and support tours soon followed. 2007 saw the duo turn professional with the release of their second album SMOKE OF HOME, but it was their third, TAKE YOURSELF A WIFE, which established the duo as “A force in the folk revival” (The Observer).

The following years saw three BBC Radio 2 Folk Award Nominations, three spiral earth awards, international tours and the release of the critically acclaimed THE LONGSHOT. “The most original duo on the British folk scence” said the Guardian, “A marriage made in Heaven” said Songlines. They wowed fans with performances at Cambridge Folk Festival, Green Man Festival, Larmer Tree Festival and all across the UK, even winning over passengers of the tugboat MV Ella in Hartlepool.

The birth of a baby girl in 2011 wasn’t enough to slow down the duo with the release of WHEN I WAS A LAD – A Collection of Childrens Folk Songs, and the formation of the unique FAMILY FOLK SHOW series. And during all this time, Stu even managed to get involved with other artists producing records for LUCY WARD, FAUSTUS, THE WILLOWS, THE YOUNG’UNS, MAWKIN CAUSLEY, THE CECIL SHARP PROJECT & SHOW OF HANDS.

MEGSON are now celebrating nearly 10 years on the road, by releasing MEGSON – LIVE.  Recorded at the duo’s regular haunt, The Hitchin Folk Club, it is a limited release containing 16 tracks from across their career.

MEGSON L I V E CD is available exculsively from www.megsonmusic.co.uk and www.ProperMusic.com.

DISCOGRAPHY                                                                           

ON THE SIDE      (2004, EDJ011)
MEGSON EP    (2006, EDJ012)
SMOKE OF HOME    (2007, EDJ013)
TAKE YOURSELF A WIFE    (2008, EDJ015)
THE LONGSHOT    (2010, EDJ016)
WHEN I WAS A LAD   (2012, EDJ017)
MEGSON L I V E    (2013, EDJ018)