Rosie Hood’s debut solo album impresses on so many levels. Firstly, there’s her voice – a model of power and clarity; secondly there is the restraint of the accompaniments, even allowing for the presence of a string trio and Emma Smith’s mighty double bass and, finally, the template for the record. The Beautiful & The Actual is a quotation from Alfred Williams’ Folk Songs Of The Upper Thames and if you know anything about Williams you’ll know that he collected only words, never tunes, on the grounds that no-one would want to sing these songs again.
Many of Williams’ songs are unusual variants and I suspect that some of them, ‘Baker’s Oven’ for example, are unique. They provide a rich source of material for both singers and composers which is where Rosie comes in. She isn’t the first person to arrange Williams’ songs but probably the first to dedicate almost a whole album to him. She opens with ‘Lover’s Ghost’ matched with the tune of Packie Byrne’s version of ‘Holland Handkerchief’. This is an undeniably spooky tale made more so by its apparent simplicity. Having chilled your blood, Rosie injects some humour with a song of her own, ‘Furlong Of Flight’ concerning the unlikely story of an 11th century monk who constructed a pair of wings and flew down Malmesbury High Street before his crash landing.
‘William’s Sweetheart’ is a reworking of ‘William Taylor’ and ‘Lord Lovel’ borrows Peter Bellamy’s tune. ‘The Little Blind Girl’ is an unpublished text with a tune by Rosie who also wrote new melodies for variants of ‘The Red Herring’ and ‘The Cruel Mother’. Of the contemporary songs two, placed side by side, stand out. ‘Adrift, Adrift’ is Rosie’s song about refugees lost in the Mediterranean and John Archbold’s ‘The Hills Of Kandahar’ looks at the other end of the ongoing story, telling of a soldier killed by an IED in Afghanistan.
Supporting musicians include co-producer Tom A Wright, Ollie King, Jefferson Hamer and Emily Portman but Rosie’s voice dominates as it should with traditional music. The Beautiful & The Actual is high on my list of albums of the year.
Rosie Hood’s debut solo album is coming soon; your chance to preorder with exclusive rewards
Nominated for the Horizon Award at this year’s BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, Rosie Hood has already appeared on RootBeat in the Dovetail Trio’s Wing of Evening. We’re delighted to be bringing you her solo debut as well, and for the next few days you have the chance to pre-order it with exclusive bonuses including limited edition artwork prints by Louise Bichan and Rosie herself, bonus tracks, gig tickets and even an exclusive house concert.
Rosie says: There will be old songs and new songs on this album, traditional and re-worked folk songs as well as those I’ve written. Songs of women and from their voices, songs and stories from where I grew up in Wiltshire, songs of struggle, love and death (it is a folk album after all…).
My as-yet-unnamed debut album is already under way with demos of 12 tracks recorded with producer Tom Wright, the photo shoot in the diary with Louise Bichan, and Elly Lucas on board to work on styling and design. Melodeon player Ollie King and guitarist Jefferson Hamer are confirmed guests with more brilliant musicians yet to be announced.
Traditional singer Rosie Hood has been awarded a BBC Performing Arts Fellowship to work with the English Folk Dance and Song Society. Under the scheme, EFDSS will work with Rosie during 2015 to develop her artistic skills and professional opportunities, offering her guidance in a number of areas.
Rosie, who performs solo and with The Dovetail Trio, will also have access to rehearsal and performance opportunities and be part of EFDSS’ showcasing programme both in the UK and abroad.
The fellowship is awarded by the BBC Performing Arts Fund, which has given a total of £32,000 to 32 arts organisations across the UK so they can host a bespoke placement opportunity as part of the scheme. Successful organisations were able to demonstrate that a Fellowship placement with them would offer significant professional development opportunities for a Fellow, that their placement would be realistic and achievable, and that the selection process they went through to identify the Fellow was fair and transparent.
It is the second time in three years that a folk musician has received a Fellowship – singer songwriter Maz O’Connor was the recipient of an award in 2013.
“EFDSS is very excited to be part of the BBC Performing Arts Fund Fellowships and be working with Rosie over the next 12 months. She is a highly talented young artist at a stage in her career when this support can really help her to develop both her creative and business skills.” Katy Spicer, EFDSS Chief Executive
“I’m completely thrilled to have been awarded a Performing Arts Fund Fellowship with EFDSS. The combined knowledge, expertise and contacts of the society will be an invaluable resource to me over the coming year and I already feel more confident in my goals knowing that EFDSS believe in my ability to achieve them. The potential of what I might accomplish in this Fellowship is incredibly exciting and just a little bit daunting! I can’t wait to throw myself into it and develop musically, creatively and professionally in 2015.” Rosie Hood