Creation of Northamptonshire-based composer, acclaimed acoustic guitarist and singer Chris Brown, hazeyjane is the vehicle for the live musical expression of his own original songs and adaptive arrangements of celebrated pieces of poetry. Chris’ voice is often said to resemble that of David Sylvian and his ambient acoustic guitar style uses unusual tunings and spider capos to create exquisite guitar figures and motifs that give his songs distinctively airy, graceful and spacious qualities.
The soundscape settings of his songs are enriched by the accompaniment provided by the signature singing sound of Kevin T Ward’s fretless bass and his use of harmonics, stopping and chords to add rhythmic expression, texture, and colour.
The hazeyjane line-up was bolstered recently by the addition of percussionist David ‘Hopi’ Hopkins and his myriad nuanced, percussive textures, which contribute greatly to the overall mood of the hazeyjane sound.
Most rewarding to a listening and discerning audience, hazeyjane aim to produce mellow and melodic music that is, in turns, intense and intimate, dreamy and dynamic, relaxing in its mellifluence but hauntingly atmospheric; music that, ultimately, seeks the sublime.
Chris plays Taylor, Maestro and Takamine acoustic guitars and Kevin uses Roscoe and Sandberg 5 string fretless bass guitars.
Their debut album release, One, was recorded and mastered at Tu-kay Records in Stoke Bruerne, and released July 2016 to a series of glowing reviews.
They may be newcomers to the scene, but Stick In The Wheel are certainly making their mark, not just with their own recordings and associated artifacts, but in their involvement with the folk world in general, and the traditional in particular.
Band members Ian Carter and Nicola Kearey serve as curators, collaborators and producers for this collection of new live recordings by both the great and good and some of the lesser known luminaries in the genre. The remit for those involved was to record songs that explored either place or their musical identity, culminating in a gathering of field recordings captured in locations as diverse as a stone cottage in Edale, a bank vault and a garden at Robin Hood’s Bay using just two stereo microphones and with no subsequent overdubs.
As you would imagine, the tracks are stark and raw, first up being ‘Bedfordshire May Carol’, chosen by performer Jack Sharp, leader of psych-folk outfit Wolf People, as it supposedly originated just a few miles from where he grew up. Next up, Eliza Carthy leads a flurry of more familiar names with a self-penned number, ‘The Sea’, a new setting of the broadside ballad found in Manchester’s Chetham Library and featuring on her current album, the initial pizzicato fiddle giving way to more robust playing. She’s followed by one of the veterans of English folk, John Kirkpatrick, applying his accordion to a song from his lengthy repertoire and a folk club staple ‘Here’s Adieu To Old England’, while his sometimes musical partner, Martin Carthy, also chose a number he’s recently reintroduced back into his sets, ‘The Bedmaking’, a familiar tale of the abused and cast aside servant girl. fingerpicked here to a halting rhythm.
Sandwiched in-between is one of the rising stars of the few folk firmament, the Peak District’s Bella Hardy, who went to 19th century collection The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire for ‘The Ballad of Hugh Stenson’, setting it to a more upbeat tune than the hymnal adapted by Jon Tams, while, another member of folk royalty, Jon Boden puts his squeezebox to work on a contemplative take on 19th century drinking song ‘Fathom The Bowl’.
There’s a couple of spokes from the Wheel, both unaccompanied, Kearey delivering glottal version of the much covered ‘Georgie’ and Fran Foote ‘The Irish Girl’. They’re not the only numbers to be sung naked as it were. BritFolk alumnus Lisa Knapp has a lovely treatment of the tumblingly melodious ‘Lavender Song’, while, also from the female side, Fay Hield tips the hat to Annie Briggs with her choice of ‘Bonny Boy’.
On the other side of a capella gender fence, Geordie folkie Stew Simpson mines his Newcastle roots for ‘Eh Aww Ah Cud Hew’ (which the accompanying booklet helpfully translates as “Oh Yes, I Could Pick At The Coals”), Sam Lee turns the evergreen ‘Wild Rover’ on its head to transform it into a slow, sad lament rather than more familiar rollicking rouser of Dubliners and Pogues note, and, from Wales, a deep-voiced Men Diamler closes the album with ‘1848 (Sunset Beauregard)’, a self-penned political protest ballad about Tory policies. The remaining unaccompanied track is actually a duet, Peta Webb and Ken Hall joining voices for an Irish in London in the 50s marriage of Ewan MacColl’s ‘Just A Note’, about the building of the M1, and Bob Davenport’s account of the dangers of ‘Wild Wild Whiskey’.
The three remaining tracks are all instrumentals. Bristol’s acoustic instrumental quartet Spiro are the only band on the collection and provide their self-penned ‘Lost In Fishponds’, apparently about getting lost en route to a gig, joined here by North Wales violinist Madame Česki, while Sam Sweeney brings his fiddle to bear on two tunes. ‘Bagpipers’, one of the first things he played with his band Leveret, and ‘Mount Hills’, an English dance tune from the 17th century. Which leaves Cumbrian concertina maestro Rob Harbron to provide the third with a pairing of ‘Young Collins’, a Costwolds’ tune learned from Alistair Anderson, and, another from the Morris tradition, ‘Getting Up The Stairs’, which, by way of a pleasing synchronicity, he actually learned by way of John Kirkpatrick on the influential Morris On album.
It more than does the job it set out to achieve, and, likely to loom large in end of year awards, fully warrants a place in any traditional folk fan’s collection.
Although conveniently filed under NewGrass, there’s more to San Francisco based duo Maria Quiles and Rory Cloud that bluegrass, Shake Me Now, their third album, produced by label founder Alison Brown, evidencing traces of jazz, classical, blues and folk. With Oscar Westesson on upright bass essentially making them a trio, it’s moodily overcast folk that dominates the opening track, ‘Black Sky Lightning’ with its fingerpicked tracery and pulsing bass, getting slightly airier with the strummed love song ‘On My Way Tonight’ before the title track brings it back to calmer, more reflective ground.
The traditional roots are evidenced with covers of both ‘Deep Ellum Blues’, the first on which Cloud’s vocals have equal prominence, and ‘Worried Man Blues’, a folk chestnut popularised by Woody Guthrie. Along with these there’s also a cover of relatively more recent origin, Cloud taking wearied lead on a slow paced interpretation of Dylan’s ‘You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere’.
Everything else is original material, ranging in style from the fiddle-backed American roots folksiness of ‘By The Rio Grande’ and the stripped and slow waltzing ‘Hero’s Crown’ to the crooning harmonies of ‘Mississippi River’ and the itchier, swampier blues that drive ‘Feelin’ Good’.
Quiles has a gentle, soothingly engaging voice, and it’s heard to good effect on the a capella harmonising opening to the five minute ‘Faded Flower’ before a lonesome acoustic campfire guitar picks up the spare melody. Closing with a one mic bonus recap of ‘Black Sky Lightning’ that ups the tempo, this is one for the hours as evening draws in and you sit there staring at the vastness of the skies. Front porch optional.
If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Quiles & Cloud 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.
Souvenirs. Drew Holcomb has collected many of them. A road warrior for more than a decade, he’s spent his adulthood onstage and on the road, traveling from place to place with a catalogue of vibrant, honest songs that explore the full range of American roots music. He turns a new corner with 2017’s Souvenir, a highly-collaborative album that finds Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors focusing on the things that truly stick with you, including family and friends, music and memories, people and places, in a fast-moving world. Continue reading Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors reveal new album
Benjamin Folke Thomas was born on a small island off the coast of Sweden, mainly populated by evangelical Christians, but his third album takes it’s title from across the Øresund; Copenhagen.
Combining his upbringing with musical influences ranging from Leadbelly to Cohen and Jackson Browne means his work tends, perhaps not surprisingly, to be introspective and personal. His style and voice are similar to Martyn Joseph and, like Joseph, he is a supreme storyteller. His stories encompass large issues but at the individual, human level so this is not necessarily an album to be put on in the car whilst driving. To get the most from it you need take the time to sit down and listen to every word and you will be well rewarded for your effort.
The title track, ‘Copenhagen 30/6’, is a good example of his work as a storyteller. There are seven verses and no chorus, which is fairly typical. It’s a song about needing somebody in order for life to make sense and have purpose and yet not until the very end of song are we given any hope there might be a happy ending. There may also be an element of autobiography in it
“I missed you tonight when I was up on stage, I couldn’t find my focus I was unable to engage, The sound was bad not enough tickets sold, I wish I was with you tonight.”
‘Finn’ is another story set to music, rather than a song, and it is a terrific story about the passing of time; how things change but how they also stay the same. It chiefly concerns two men who have come into Benjamin’s life and the song is so convincing I believe they are real people. We are first introduced to Abbas, a Palestinian and doctor but trying to make ends meet working in a supermarket having left his wife and children behind. Next we are introduced to Benjamin’s grandfather, the Finn of the title, who also ended up as a refugee from the Nazis and lost his brother to them. Two men separated by time and yet neither are able to live the life they wanted because of forces they cannot control which separate them from loved ones.
If there is a theme to this album it is that search for love and stability yet worrying that finding what you want may not be the answer. As he sings in ‘Safe and Secure’
“They say that love is liberating But I don’t understand How can anyone in love ever feel Safe and secure”
Musically the influence is Blues with a bit of Rock but the strength is the words. In a different persona Benjamin could be described as a poet, rather than singer, and he would be equally good. Copenhagen is an incredibly good album of contemporary music from a performer who has a lot to give and is not afraid to give all. It is highly recommended.
The album was released on the 3rd March and is available through the artist’s website as well as the usual platforms.
If you would like to order a copy of the one of the albums (in CD or Vinyl), download them or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Benjamin Folke Thomas 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.
Durham-based musician and songwriter Harri Endersby is proud to release her full-length, debut album Homes/Lives. The 11-track album is a collection of songs written by Harri over the past two years, the recording of which has been made possible by 85 ‘backers’ who funded the album process through her successful Kickstarter campaign.
Growing up in County Durham and its thriving folk scene, Harri’s music has been heavily influenced by the region’s crowd of prestigious folk singers and musicians, her lyrics being firmly rooted in the pastoral and the world of story-telling. Her new album Homes/Lives presents a transition in style, beginning with acoustic, stripped-back tracks whilst gradually introducing electronic instrumentation and beats as the album progresses. This interweaving of genres has been inspired by Harri’s love of Icelandic electro-folk and the likes of Ásgeir and Samaris.
Her 5-track EP Ivy Crown released in 2014, rose to number 17 in the iTunes singer-songwriter charts and had tracks played on BBC Newcastle Introducing, The Folk Show on Bishop FM and Roger William’s World of Difference.
Harri Endersby is currently scheduling a tour for autumn 2017.