Seasons is the second single by London-based singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Cerian, from her upcoming EP Caught in the Dark. Described as “the purest voice on radio” and tipped by Music Republic Magazine as one of their “ones to watch” in 2019, Cerian now releases the official video to accompany the single, which has already garnered glowing reviews.
Seasons is a beautiful genre-defying ethereal piece of alt folk pop based around two lines of poetry by Lewis Carroll, which reveal themselves gradually throughout the song:
“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the Summers die.”
Taking Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland as a starting point, and using the seasons as a metaphor for love and the passage of time, this video takes us to a distant wonderland, where epic drone shots and detailed close ups showcase the verdant greens of nature echoing the vivid colour references in the song. The lyrics in Seasons heavily reference painting, with colour playing a thematic role in the development of the video, moving first from the green of Spring representing the newness of a first love, then to the vivid colours experienced when in love, finally ending in the coldness of blue Winter felt by this love now lost. Also a talented artist, Cerian has created all the art and paintings that accompany her releases – and both sonically and literally paints the evocative pictures that Seasons conjure.
Lewis Carroll’s poem provided further inspiration for the central narrative direction the video would take:
“Still she haunts me, phantomwise, Alice moving under skies, Never seen by waking eyes.”
Flipping this idea around, Cerian takes the role of the protagonist as Alice, searching for her lost love, a phantom figure which we never see clearly. Cerian explains,
“We wanted the video to be a poetic representation of the themes of the song – time, seasons, love, hope, dreams, sadness and separation. We used the metaphor of Alice in Wonderland constantly searching for something she can never find, the object of her desire being the lost love, who is constantly out of reach.”
In order to convey this separation and the passage of time, different scenes were filmed at different times of day. Shot and directed by filmmaker Bartek Podkowa of Seven Hills Films, most of the filming took place in the lush green countryside surrounding his native Lublin, Poland, whilst Cerian was on tour there last year.
Classically trained in harp, piano, and guitar, Cerian brings her varied skills together in atmospheric production, with Seasons featuring entrancing soundscapes which may be likened to London Grammar and Active Child. The song opens on a chorus of 4-part harmony, reminiscent of a real-life vocoder. Cerian’s beautiful soprano dramatically soars above a haunting perpetual motion in electric guitar that continues relentlessly throughout the song, representing time itself. These rich layers of guitar and piano lie above epic orchestral drums, interwoven with melancholic cello and twinkling harp in a uniquely dark dream-pop setting.
Cerian has contributed her vocals to an impressive array of artists, including U2, Radiohead, Sam Smith, Thom Yorke,Imogen Heap, Neneh Cherry,Tom Chaplin, Nakhane, Charlotte Church, Laura Mvula and Amber Run. Once she began performing her own work as a solo artist, her vocal dexterity and range – combined with emotive and truthful songwriting – quickly resulted in comparisons to Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. Her songs have garnered BBC Radio play, and Cerian has quickly gained a reputation as a captivating live performer from appearances at Glastonbury Festival, Bush Hall and two sold-out headline shows at The National Portrait Gallery.
As the curtain was raised on another year of The Great British Folk Festival – it was for me my first year at this event – a newbie to a festival that has now established itself at a major player on the folk festival circuit. Being my first trip, I wanted to pre-book a couple of interviews with some of the artists that were performing – and one person I was interested in finding out more about, was the ex Steeleye Span, Albion Band and Magna Carta guitarist and singer Ken Nicol.
The set and performance was excellent… one man… two guitars and a ukulele with a few great heart warming stories thrown in that held and enthralled the audience.
Over the years, Ken Nicol has built up a huge reputation as a singer songwriter – and a fairly useful… in fact totally brilliant guitarist in his own right. Ken tours regularly all over the world and has a growing legion of loyal fans. I was intrigued to find out more about the man and his work – and caught up with him after he opened the festival on ‘Reds Stage’ in Skegness. We spoke about performing solo, medication, health and spiritual song writing.
This is what he had to say.
Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront
I sit here two weeks after The Great British Folk Festival with a Whitstable Bay Organic Ale in hand and I’m in good company as I have the new The Men They Couldn’t Hang – Cook-A-Hoop vinyl spinning on my turntable.
The album has made quite a journey from when it was first given to me by the band back stage after the interview we did in the early hours of Sunday 2nd December. The vinyl started its journey on top of a pizza box as Cush insisted it came along to the Oysterband back stage gathering (The MEN were playing on REDS stage outside of the Skyline Pavilion and Oysterband were in the Centre Stage complex and on at the same time). Like us, the new album couldn’t find its way there either as everything was locked up. It took 20 minutes in the rain with TMTCH in tow to realise that the best destination was now 109 Gull Court in The Keys area of Butlins Skeggy. This was the place where the album, the half-eaten pizza’s, The MEN and us hangers-on could be reunited with some more alcohol. However, not all of us made it to 109 Gull Court as the pizza was offloaded on to Simon Care who happened to be wandering past at 2am in the morning on his way to bed.
Anyway, I digress… so let’s get back to the fantastic new album and that late-night folking TMTCH interview.
Cook-A-Hoop has thirteen tracks, two instrumentals, and eleven songs, five written by Paul Simmonds, three by Swill and three by Cush. Cook-A-Hoop is both minimalist and musically expansive.
The songs start with ‘Sirens’, with revolution and a call to arms Pogue-MEN-Style followed by an escapism tale imagined at the speed of an ‘Arrow’ flight. Then a tremolo panther prowls, like a young Bobby Seale and gives his greeting by way of Sunday Soul ‘Salutations’ with trumpet heralding in the arrival of Marvin.
Next, ‘Three Ships Sailing’ haul away, plundering oceans, flying colours with far of canon-shot drum beat judging distance. While half the world is living on ‘Pone’, the unleavened maize bread, this rocking song with mental saxophone and growling vocals shoves it down your throat and reminds us that some people don’t have a choice.
Mantle then shrouds the tale of ‘The Queen of Crows’ who surveys the night to gentle pining fiddle. We journey then to the city of the ‘Archangel’, riding on camels, playing snake charmer grooves, telling tales of devils, demons and shotgun shacks.
Finally, Cush gives us a ‘Kings Street Serenade’ in green bomber jacket, and tight drainpipe trousers. A homage to the glory days of Joe Strummer, Pogue Mohon and being in heaven.
So, to sum the album up… Right Time, Right Place, Right Song. All packaged up in ‘The Amazing Carrier Bag’ of broken dreams and Brexit chaos.
Yes, its classic MEN, so if you’re already a fan, you’ll love it. If you’re not yet, then you are in for a treat as it stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of the rest of the back catalogue of 9 studio albums and over 139 songs.
Paul Simmonds has songs pouring out of him at the moment and Swill and Cush are on top song writing form. So, strap yourself in, fasten your seatbelts, you’re in for a TMTCH Cock-A-Hoop roller coaster of a ride of an album. The MEN continue to be, not just a band of brothers who have stuck together for 35 years through thick and thin but also a group that have survived their time and forged a new musical strength out of the political, blood, sweat and tears of their glorious musical past.
However, the biggest revelation of all is that Swill wished he had written Bat out of Hell!
Here is the interview that Paul Johnson and Darren Beech recorded with TMTCH after the show.
Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront
Well they say Christmas is a special time of year for a Winter Union, when magical things happen, and this year’s Great British Folk Festival is no exception.
There was Darren and I merrily covering this year’s Skegness outing and we happened across Winter Union, a wonderful, hugely talented ‘folk super group’ and all round lovely bunch of chums from the folk scene, who treated us to a fantastic opening afternoon festive set on ‘REDS stage’ yesterday.
Winter Union comprises of Ben Savage, Katriona Gilmore, Jade Rhiannon, Hannah Saunders and Jamie Roberts, who are now in their 4th year as a festive get together.
This was the first date of their 2018 December tour. They played a stunning festive set, mixing traditional Christmas songs with an added blue grass lilt. Darren and I could not let this amazing sleigh ride pass us by without hopping on for an after gig chat in the bar. We also explored Ben Savage’s (or babe as I called him in a text typo) tale of ‘Christmas Ball Balls’.
Like Kurt Russell in ‘Escape from New York‘, Annie Dressner has legged it as well and made it over here to fair Albion even without the aid of an eye patch! Dressner been busy in Blighty, clocking up airplay on both BBC Radio Two and Six and earning herself festival appearances at Green Man and Cambridge to name just a few. Its no surprise then, that she now has a brand new spanking album, ‘Broken Into Pieces’ in the can and a huge heart and desire to share it with everyone.
Mates abound, with contributions from Polly Palusama and Che Bereford from Capercaille. Dressner’s husband Paul Goodwin also chips in on BV’s along with Dan Wilde and Jade Rhiannon Ward from the Willows. Matthew Caws from Nada Surf is also part of the project together with ‘Broken Into Pieces’ album producer Nigel Stonier (Thea Gilmore, Fairport Convention, Martha Wainwright, Waterboys and Abbie Ozard).
The album looks at the little fragile fragments of everyday life and its relationships. The melodies are folk/pop tinged, complemented by vocals pitched in a tone, slightly higher in a golden, “crisp Manhattan morning air”. It starts with ‘Fades Away’, which gently pulls the listener out of its opening hypnotic circular guitar and soft lullaby chrysalis, into a relationship butterfly of tinkering piano and meandering cello. ‘Don’t Go’, folk-pop-rocks it along with its little cheery whistling intro as it steams off into ‘sticky plaster’ patching up relationship territory, with one foot out the door whilst the head is jerked back around as its being persuaded to stay. ‘Heartbreaker’ has a great swinging pop-country homespun roll to it and looks back to what could have been. ‘This was how it was to be my love when you were my love‘, maybe all those gold flakes in the vodka bankrupted the poor fella!
‘Kentucky’, which you can watch in video below was the first track that jumped out and grabbed me. There is something very fragile about it, you feel like you are holding the heart of it and if you don’t hold on to it carefully enough, you may drop and smash it.
The more and more I listen to ‘Broken Into Pieces’, the more I find something new in it. Its a beautiful thing and its definitely a keeper.