SALT HOUSE – Undersong (Make Believe MBR7CD)

UndersongThere have been changes in the Salt House with Jenny Sturgeon joining Ewan MacPherson and Lauren MacColl and having a big impact as songwriter and lead vocalist alongside Ewan. What hasn’t changed is their use of literature as well as traditional sources to inspire their music. Undersong is only their second album, five years on from their debut, but it has been worth the wait.

There are no guest musicians on Undersong and there really is no need for them with everyone playing at least instruments and my criticism of Lay Your Dark Low that some of the vocals weren’t strong enough has been dealt with. There is a lightness and openness in the music which makes this album very good listening. The opener, Jenny’s ‘Old Shoes’, is a perfect example. Starting with just voice and dancing guitar – I’m not sure if that’s Ewan or Jenny – it slowly builds up with Lauren’s strings and the addition of the other voices. ‘Turn Ye To Me’ comes from a 19th century collection with words by John Wilson but Jenny’s music makes it sound very modern and they repeat the technique with ‘The Sisters’ Revenge’ a gorgeous song which I was convinced was an original written in the traditional idiom. Half right: the words are traditional but the tune is Ewan’s.

‘Lay Your Dark Low’ wasn’t on the album with that title and I can’t say when Ewan wrote it but it is another stunning song. Jenny’s ‘Charmer’ presages Lauren’s setting of Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’ and we’re back to the tradition with ‘I Sowed Some Seeds’ albeit somewhat adapted by Ewan. The title track which closes the album was written by all three band members and lives up to its name having a double meaning.

Undersong is a very fine album and comes highly recommended.

Dai Jeffries

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click 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: https://www.salthousemusic.com/

‘Old Shoes’ – official video:

Salt House announce their new album

Salt House

Five years on from their debut, which announced a major new force on the scene, Scottish band Salt House release their new album Undersong. Produced by folk heavyweight Andy Bell (Martin Simpson, Songs of Separation, Jon Boden, Furrow Collective), the album instills a special sense of place, recorded in a restored Telford Church on the island of Berneray, Outer Hebrides.

Whether it’s setting old words to new melodies, re-working ancient ballads or writing their own – Salt House marry all their musical strands with a deep understanding for the British song tradition and an empathy for a story. Recent recruit, singer-songwriter Jenny Sturgeon joins multi-instrumentalist and songsmith Ewan MacPherson and violist and fiddler Lauren MacColl to weave stories of landscape, place and time.

The Telford church used to record the music was featured in Channel 4’s Restoration Man and is a special, hugely creative space, in a location which marries perfectly with the band’s love of the islands, the outdoors and of nature. Salt House are based in the Highlands and Northern Isles and the music for Undersong was created over the past year between the Cairngorms and rural Aberdeenshire.

The ten songs on the album include new settings of poetry, a reworking of a Scandinavian ballad, and six new songs from Jenny and Ewan’s own writing. The band deliver and arrange their material with an honesty and respect to the story, the words, and their lineage, whilst continuing to forge their own sound.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click 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.salthousemusic.com

‘Old Shoes’ from the album Undersong:

Ewan MacPherson announces solo album

Ewan MacPherson fetch

“Over the last 20 years I have been lucky enough to play with a wide range of folk musicians from all over the world, but especially Europe. It has been an inspiring journey learning from some of the finest players in a variety of culturally rich countries.

From the Celtic and Anglo Nations across to Scandinavia, my musical travels have led me to write this collection of tunes reflecting those experiences.

I am not from a family of tradition bearers, but my forebears hail from all over the British Isles and music is in my bones. I have a genuine love for it, along with a mongrel’s freedom which allows me to jump headlong into new cultures and get involved, learning many of the nuances in traditional styles from the generous musicians I have met.

Fetch is the culmination of all those experiences, with a few good friends from along the way, each one of them a respected musician in their own right. This is also a way to say thanks and perhaps a chance to give something back. In these uncertain times it feels good to be part of such a vibrant culture so full of bright energy.

This has been a very hands-on project, I wrote 95% of the music on this album, produced and recorded in Scotland and Norway, designed the cover art and booked the tour.”

Ewan MacPherson has been working in the music industry for 20 years. As a multi-instrumentalist he is a recognised figure on the vibrant Scottish music scene and as such was nominated for Instrumentalist of the Year at the 2014 MG Alba Trad Music Awards.

He is a founder member of three acclaimed bands (Fribo, Salt House and RoughCoastAudio) and has taken stages around the world with a wide range of traditional and contemporary folk/roots artists.

Ewan’s music has taken him as far as India, Malaysia, Canada, America, Australia and throughout Europe, in addition to his own projects he is currently a member of renowned acid-croft band Shooglenifty and tours with Patsy Reid. Ewan has also worked with many prominent artists including: Afro-Celt Sound-system, Alan Kelly Gang, Alasdair White, The Battlefield Band, Bella Hardy, Breabach, Bruce MacGregor, Burach, Chloe Matharu, Chris & Thomas, Claire Mann, Daimh, Dannsa, Emily Smith, Ewan Robertson, Fine Friday, Gillie Mackenzie, Gillebride MacMillan, Hannah Read, Inge Thompson, Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller, Kongero, Lori Watson, Maeve Mackinnon, Mairi Campbell, Malinky, Nuala Kennedy, Ranarim, Shooglenifty, Salsa Celtica and The Treacherous Orchestra.

A skilled multi instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and producer Ewan released an album of self-penned songs in 2008 (which included a collaboration with Vashti Bunyan) many of which have been covered by other leading artists including Breabach, Patsy Reid and Siobhan Miller. He produced Gillie Mackenzie’s debut solo album in 2011.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (in CD or Vinyl format), download one or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click 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.

Artist’s website: www.ewanmacpherson.com

‘Brutus The Husky/MacColl’s’ – the opening track from Fetch:

 

SALT HOUSE: Lay Your Dark Low

Salt HouseLabel:   Make Believe Records

Catalogue number:   MBR5CD

Distribution:   Proper Music Distribution & Highlander Distribution

Release Date: 11th November 2013

“Lay Your Dark Low” heralds the arrival of a major new musical force, from Scotland. Acoustic four-piece SALT HOUSE is the meeting of four distinct musical minds, on the Scottish scene, their highly current sound is earthy & deep-rooted, yet eagerly progressive, built from grassroots folk with contemporary influences. Continue reading SALT HOUSE: Lay Your Dark Low