Andy White announces new album

Andy White

Andy White is a Belfast singer-songwriter whose first EP Religious Persuasion, and 1986 debut album Rave On Andy White kick-started a career which includes twenty albums, two books of poetry and a novel. Writing with Peter Gabriel, forming ALT with Tim Finn and Liam O Maonlai, touring the world many times over with his acoustic guitar and winning Ireland’s top music awards, Andy has lived in Belfast, Dublin, Switzerland and, currently, Melbourne. Time Is A Buffalo In The Art Of War is his fourteenth studio album.

Andy’s new album takes over from where his previous release The Guilty & The Innocent left off. It zooms out to come to terms with the big picture we’re all faced with—socially, politically, personally. The album’s subtitle is, “It’s our world, and this is how I see it”. The Guilty & The Innocent named names. Ten short acoustic rock ‘n’ roll songs about Trump, the Manchester bombing, Grenfell and the Unheard, with the album featuring the glorious title track in which Andy stepped back from judgement, realising that this is part of the problem and that “the guilty and the innocent are the same as you and me”.

Time Is A Buffalo In The Art Of War takes that thought and puts it on the last train out of the UK along with a troupe of characters hurtling through the night. ‘The Shit Hits The Fan’ confronts the reality of the situation in a series of questions. ‘Running Round In Circles’ is the response. ‘One In A Million’ starts in a Belfast bus station, love and death on the narrator’s mind, and leads to ‘Friday Night’ and a contemporary connection with a spirit from 1989. ‘Fire Engines Blue Trains And Trucks’ builds from toy cars to smart bombs and leaves us on the dark side of the moon. ‘Fly If You Want To’ gives equal weight to taking it or leaving it—as long as good records are playing in the bar. ‘Armageddon #4’ is the big picture writ large, freedom marching for “a better future than today”. ‘Everyone’s Gone To France’ – perhaps the Last Train has made it across the Channel. Perhaps not.

The album features an orchestra, a brass section, Andy’s son Sebastian on drums and Rod McVey – multi-instrumentalist and co-producer of Andy’s early albums.

“I had finished throwing things at the telly and pointed my finger at the sky. I was listening to Imagine, feeling the power of truth being able to turn around an apparently hope-free situation. The strength of our aspirations towards freedom. I was listening to The War on Drugs, big sound, guitar solos, songs stretching out as far as they wanted to. If you have a lot to say take all the time you want to say it. That’s what we did.” ANDY WHITE

Artist’s website: https://www.andywhite.com/

‘The Shit Hits The Fan’ – official video:

Irish duo Blackbird & Crow announce their second album

Blackbird & Crow
Photograph by Megan Doherty

The musical cosmos of Blackbird & Crow is almost infinite, ranging from soul, blues, psychedelic rock, from Americana to Irish Folklore. Maighread Ni Ghrasta and Stephen Doohan, two kindred spirits in music, come from County Donegal in the northwest of Ireland. Discovered by Moya Brennan, singer and harpist of the Irish folk rock legend Clannad, they released their debut Shock Shatter Convince in 2017 and have played shows all over the UK, ROI and Germany. While deeply rooted in the musical tradition of their home country, Blackbird & Crow have always explored the trends of contemporary music.

Ailm is the second album of this extraordinary duo and the first on the German-based label M.I.G. Music. An impressive work by two exceptional musicians, showing a partly heavy, almost slightly disturbing, morbid beauty which is touching and sometimes even comforting. The songs are carried by Maighread‘s great nuanced vocal, with distinct Irish flair, and by the virtuosity of Stephen on the stringed instruments. The lyrics to their songs, almost all of which are written by Maighread, explore themes of addiction, suicidal thoughts, abuse, social alienation, anxieties, stories about lost souls on the fringes of society and the gloomy aspects of Celtic mythology. Ailm is a ruthlessly honest self-exploration, both harsh and beautiful, mainly from a first-person perspective, but often also in the third person, as for example in ‘Margaret The Martyr’, which is in its stark intensity reminds of Shel Silverstein‘s ‘Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’. Only that the protagonist here does not end up in a nuthouse, but vegetates in a nursing home, abandoned and lonely. A lot of personal experience finds its way into the lyrics, offering a pitiless view into the past, as well as their native Ireland.

While Blackbird & Crow impress audiences with their stage presence and unrestrained power, this record is dominated by the softer sounds and calls for close attention. With Tommy McLaughlin (Altan, Villagers) they found the right producer who helped them realise their musical ideas for the new album. Senior recording engineer Brian Masterson (Chieftains, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello) then gave Ailm its sonic finetuning.

“Ailm” is the Irish name of the twentieth letter of the Ogham alphabet; in the glossary “Tree Alphabet” “Ailm” represents the conifer. In the tree lore of Celtic mythology, the conifer stands for the healing of one‘s own soul. The “Ailm” symbol allegorizes progress, a spiritual journey. It is, however, also the symbol for healing, protection, purification, guidance, fertility, energy, clarity, health, integrity and objectivity. “We think that this word and symbol represents us and our songs very well“, says Maighread. “A conifer can brave very rough conditions and can grow anywhere. We‘ve been through a lot; many good things have happened to us, but also plenty of bad things. Ailm stands for our journey so far.“

Artists’ website: https://blackbirdandcrow.com/

‘Harlot On Holy Hill’ / ‘The Witch That Could Not Be Burned’ – official video:

Sam Lee announces new album, Old Wow

Sam Lee

Sam Lee plays a unique role in the British music scene. He is a multi award-winning singer with a rich and soulful voice, a committed folk song collector and a successful promoter of imaginative live events. With training in visual art and contemporary dance, Sam has presented acclaimed radio documentaries and appeared on stages around the globe. And if all that wasn’t enough, Sam Lee is also a passionate conservationist and highly effective environmental campaigner. This is seen through his work with Extinction Rebellion, Music Declares Emergency and the recent RSPB campaign, Let Nature Sing, where Sam helped get 3 minutes of birdsong into the UK Top 20 charts for the first time.

Sam Lee’s 3rd album, Old Wow, his first for respected indie label, Cooking Vinyl, is due for release on 31st January 2020. The album will be accompanied by his most comprehensive UK tour to date (including his debut show at Celtic Connections 29th January 2020). As with Sam’s previous albums (Mercury Music Prize nominated/Arts Foundation Award-winning, Ground Of Its Own, 2012, followed in 2015 by the equally acclaimed, The Fade in Time), this latest album looks set to surprise, challenge and inspire.

Old Wow was recorded at RAK Studios and Studio 355 in London and is produced by Bernard Butler (Suede, MacAlmont & Butler) who also contributes electric guitar, an instrument Sam has never recorded with before. “It’s played so beautifully and sensitively here that you wouldn’t necessarily know it was an electric guitar at all!”. A remarkable and rare guest vocal is provided by Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) with Caoimhin O Raghallaigh of the acclaimed band, The Gloaming, joining on Hardanger violin. Matthew Barley provides cello on two songs. There are also beautiful harmonies provided by Cosmo Sheldrake and spoken-word poet, Dizraeli. A dazzling supporting cast of musicians features: James Keay on piano, Misha Mullov-Abbado on bass and on percussion, Josh Green. Bucolic front cover artwork is provided by Alex Merry (Boss Morris – and designer for Gucci).

Old Wow is an album devoted to the natural world; a commitment that has dominated Sam’s heart and non-musical practice for more years than he has been singing. It’s an album about our complicated relationship with planet earth but also, about the impact that ecological crisis has on our sense of self and the place we call home. The title came to Sam during a journey in the wilds of Scotland, where he had gone to reconnect with nature. While alone on a mountainside, a buzzard suddenly swooped down and screamed right over his head. Sam felt he was ‘receiving a message, telling me to listen properly and pay attention and the name Old Wow surfaced. I use “Old Wow” to describe that sense of wonder and magic that can, if listened to deeply enough, animate nature very powerfully. It also describes those experiences which exist beyond the natural realm which are often described in our folk songs.’

On Old Wow, this highly accomplished and pioneering singer has created a timeless bridge; ‘music that simultaneously looks back into the past and ahead to the future’. It also provides a moving and “urgent cry to help inspire us all to fall back in love with the natural world that we might strengthen our resolve to protect her”.

Artist’s website: http://samleesong.co.uk

‘The Moon Shines Bright’ – in the studio:

Wayward Jane release their second album

Wayward Jane

Wayward Jane are renowned in Edinburgh and beyond as exponents of a unique, transatlantic interpretation of American folk and Old Time traditions, whose sound is characterised by fun, inventiveness and a warm, intuitive dynamic between the band members.

They are just about to release their second album Old Train launched with a concert at the Argyle Cellar Bar in Edinburgh on the evening of Saturday 14th December.

Old Train was recorded by sound engineer and musician Tim Lane whose Stable Project Studio in the East Lothian countryside has become a popular choice for recording artists from Edinburgh’s alternative folk scene. The band took up residence at the studio for the duration of the process and for the most part recorded live in one room with minimal use of overdubbing. The result is a recording that is true to the spirit of their live shows, displaying their characteristic energy, spontaneity and playfulness. This combines with the clarity and richness that has been achieved in the representation of the individual instruments and voices, with pleasing vintage warmth pervading the whole. Graham Coe of the Jellyman’s Daughter mixed the album; his love and knowledge of the genre made him the perfect choice for the record.

The album showcases the band’s unique sound and blends roots material with fresh arrangements and original compositions. Alongside Old Time and Country Blues music, Old Train features songs by Gillian Welch, I Draw Slow and several compositions by the band themselves.

Some classic string band elements are present in the sound, with great fiddle and clawhammer banjo playing complimented by the drive and warmth of guitar and bass. Yet the music also features wooden flute/whistles, an inventive approach to arrangement and an emphasis on powerful vocals with close harmonies. Old Train ranges in mood and tempo from driving Old Time tunes to tender and passionate songs, with musicality and soulfulness animating the whole record.

The four band members are all active in the Celtic folk music scene of Edinburgh (and in some cases the Jazz scene) and they bring these perspectives to the American roots music that is the inspiration for Wayward Jane. The line-up includes Rachel Walker (fiddle, vocals) and Dan Abrahams (guitar, double bass) of the mighty Edinburgh folk-jazz pioneers Dowally, alongside Sam Gillespie (vocals, guitar, woodwind) of Northumbrian folk troubadours The Brothers Gillespie. Banjo player Michael Starkey has travelled and studied traditional music in the Appalachians, bringing back with him tunes and insights which help shape the sound of the album.

Wayward Jane will be gigging and touring throughout 2020 with upcoming performances including Dundee Folk Club on Sunday 19th January, Glenfarg Folk Club on Monday 27th January and Dunfermline Folk Club on Wednesday 5th February.

Artists’ website: http://waywardjane.com/about/

‘September’ – official video:

Brooke Annibale announces debut European tour for March/April 2020

Brooke Annibale
Singer-songwriter/guitarist Brooke Annibale announced today a new batch of European tour dates for early 2020.  Her first ever European tour, the dates begin on April 15th in the Netherlands and will see Brooke also playing shows in Germany, France, and the UK. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit  www.brookeannibale.com.

The announcement follows the release of a new reimagined acoustic version of her song ‘Under Streetlights’ from 2011’s Silence Worth Breaking. Of the song, Brooke stated, 

“We are just a few weeks away from the end of this decade, which I’m finding is causing me to reflect quite a bit. ‘Under Streetlights’ was written and recorded at the beginning of the decade in 2010 and has changed my journey in so many positive ways. This song was written in 2010 up in the stunning mountains of Austria. It has been requested by so many people over the years, no matter how old it gets. It has been danced to as a first dance for a very sweet newlywed couple. It was my first song placed in a TV show. It was the first song I recorded for the album Silence Worth Breaking back in December 2010. All that to say, it has been a very special song to me, so I’m releasing an acoustic version for it today that I recorded in my house.”

Brooke’s latest album Hold To The Light has been met with critical acclaim from Billboard, Uproxx, The Wild Honey Pie, Under The Radar, and more, featuring production by Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Lake Street Dive) and guest musicians Josh Kaufman (The National), Matt Douglas (Sylvan Esso) and Zach Hickman (Ray Lamontagne, Josh Ritter). Brooke Annibale is currently writing new material for her next album that she will debut on the upcoming tour.

Artist’s website:  http://www.brookeannibale.com/

‘Hold To The Light’ – official video:

Tour Dates – April 2020

15th – Amsterdam, NL @ Cinetol
16th – Nijmegen, NL @ Merleyn
17th – Cologne, DE @ Wohngemeinschaft
18th – Rodenberg, DE @ House Concert
19th – Berlin, DE @ Auster Club
22nd – Laval, FR @ Le Lardin Bavarois
23rd – Fontenay-le-Comte, FR @ La Chopine
24th – St-Aubin-du-Pavail, FR @ La Grange du Pavail
25th – Mellionnec, FR @ House Concert
26th – Rennes, FR @ Bistrot Cocagne
29th – Winchester, UK @ Railway
30th – London, UK @ Slaughtered Lamb

 

Anne Lister announces her new album

Anne Lister

Twelve songs, which, like the astrolabe of the title track, measure time and space. One song written in 1970, another written in 2019. A ring found at the Roman archaeological site of Vindolanda, a box of memorabilia belonging to a grandmother, a WWI battle, an olive branch for a former lover, the near-death experience of rats, a farewell to a dear friend, and an angel in the form of a starving polar bear. Amongst others.

Musicians and allies involved were Mike O’Connor, Barbara Griggs, Matt Crum, Steafan Hannigan, Mary McLaughlin, Helen Vincent-Tibke, Steve Purbrick, with studio engineers Liv Elliott in Boscastle, Dylan Fowler in Stiwdio Felin Fach, and Anne’s very talented nephew Rhys Fletcher, who mixed four songs and mastered the whole album.

Anne is best known as the writer of ‘Icarus’, performed and recorded by many, including Nic Jones and  Martin Simpson.  Other songs you may have heard include ‘Moth’, ‘The Quiet People’, and ‘Demeter’s Daughter’.

She performs solo, but has worked in a duo with Mary Mc Laughlin (Anonyma) and Steafan Hannigan, and has toured extensively in the UK and the US.

Artist’s website: www.annelister.com

Release date: 28 December 2019.
Available now to pre-order from Anne’s website,
Bandcamp and CDBaby.
anne@annelister.com

Just for old time’s sake – ‘Icarus’: