Mishra announce their debut album

Award winning new band Mishra release their debut album The Loft Tapes on December 7th


Mishra are an exciting new band based in Sheffield and led by Ford Collier and Kate Griffin. Ford and Kate won the inaugural Christian Raphael prize at the 2018 Cambridge Folk Festival and used the award money to record their first album as Mishra which they are now touring the country with.

Mishra describe themselves as a global folk “collective”. With strong roots in U.K folk, they weave a tight web of intricate, Indian-influenced original music that defies genre labels. Led by Kate Griffin’s voice and inimitable clawhammer banjo and driven by Ford Collier’s continent-hopping instrumental skills (Indian tabla, African calabash, Irish whistle and guitar). Ford and Kate were both separately shortlisted for the 2018 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in different projects. Both are already accomplished folk musicians (The Drystones and The Unsung Roots) 2018 saw them play Sidmouth Folk Week, Cambridge Folk Festival, Priddy Folk Festival and many more.

Until 2019, Mishra performed as a duo under the name Kate Griffin and Ford Collier; their sound has now been further underpinned by the addition of versatile jazz-folk double-bassist and bouzouki player and fellow Sheffield University alumni Joss Mann-Hazell.

For the debut Mishra album it was important to Kate and Ford that they capture the spirit of their live performances. So each track is made from a single take recorded live on analogue tape. They did this in the seclusion of a farmhouse loft in a secret Gloucestershire location. The result captures the energy of performance and the atmosphere of the setting. It’s interesting to note that on the final track ‘Morphology’, Ford recites inTabla Bol (the spoken form of the tabla drums).

As Ford says “We didn’t want the recording process to interfere with our music. We wanted to capture the fun we have in performing”. For these loft tapes they were joined by their Sheffield university mentor John Ball who is an accomplished table player and has been a mentor to the Mishra performers. His contribution allowed Mishra to produce a full band sound on live-in-room analogue tapes.

Kate says “It was such a pleasure to work with John and it helped us achieve our musical vision. He got all of us passionate about this music, so it was great to have him with us as we finished this project”

The Loft Tapes is officially released on 7th December at a concert in Kate’s hometown of Kempsford and Mishra will be touring the album across the UK in November ahead of the launch. You can find out more about their “uniquely accessible Indo-folk” on their website www.mishramusic.co.uk .

‘Taru Taru’ – live:

SINGLES BAR 46 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar 46Swiss-based BLACK SEA DAHU’s new EP, No Fire In The Sand, conjures the ghostly sound of Mediterranean waves that carry the swell of spooky folk-rock music.  BSD’s music has been described as “songs that Eurydice sadly sang in the aftermath of Orpheus’ forbidden glance”. These songs are ancient echoes still lingering in very modern memories. Magical music never ages.

‘Rhizone’ and ‘Thaw’ stretch with acoustic beauty, as a subdued guitar, keyboard, and percussion frame Janine Cathrein’s melancholic magnetic vocal. Comparisons can be made with The Dead Can Dance. This music sings with a haunted soul.

The title track dives even deeper in Stygian darkness. It’s a lonely soul of a song, yet the melody shimmers with brief moonlight. Again, the tune builds slow momentum with double-tracked voices, quelled percussion, keyboards, and a patient electric guitar that plucks silence into a strange lullaby.

The seven minute-plus ‘Demian’ begins with a simple guitar and Janine’s voice. The song gets electric and percussive. But it’s still a dreamy dance. By mid-song, the deep web of instruments simply bounces with dark mantric soul.

Finally, ‘How You Swallowed Your Anger’ has a slow acoustic and psychological pulse. An accordion is added to the mix. Words drip like Salvador Dali’s surreal time. And the melody quietly spins in a ghostly dance and then dissolves into a run-off groove filled with memories that come and go, like the ageless Mediterranean tide that flows through the music of Black Sea Dahu.

Singles Bar 46Originally one half of American folk-rock duo The Story alongside Jennifer Kimball, JONATHA BROOKE has been around for quite a while, working as both a solo artist and in tandem with names that range from Katy Perry to Patty Larkin, nothing up ten studio albums, including a collection of previously unrecorded Woody Guthrie lyrics. The Imposter (Bad Dog Records) is her first new material in three years, a five track EP opening with the swaggering title song, pizzicato violins, accordion and tuba giving a gypsy jazz feel, a lyrical spin on the emperor’s new clothes that harks to artists’ nagging doubts that what they do is a waste of time and that they’re a “Liar, Loser, Phony/No one ever says so, but I know it’s true/Poser, lightweight, cheapskate/The wanna be, the woe is me”.

That creative mind swing between confidence and uncertainty veins the EP, with the brass-brushed bluesy speak-sing slink of ‘Fire’ declaring “I’m in the ring, and I’m a knockout, so watch out” and “I’m not shutting up/Until you agree that I’m extraordinary” while’ on the woodwind and cello-coloured, relationship-based ‘Twilight’ she sings “I love you, not perfectly, not well/But I love you, and I’m leaving soon, so fare thee well”. Set to a shimmering show tune pop arrangement, ‘Revenge’ is basically about how things come back to bite you (“My best laid plans played a killer last hand on me/And you got the last laugh”) but then she again switches it around with “I’m nothing if not resourceful/I’m flexible in a pinch/I’ve got this, I can top this. It’s a cinch”.

It ends with the moody piano, flute and classical string quartet ballad ‘True To You’, a simple hymnal (“How much will it cost, Lord?/I will bear this cross, Lord/I will walk through the night/Through the valley I’ll fight/But must I be alone, Lord/To be true to you?”) that sounds like it should be a dimmed lights showstopper in some Broadway musical, a reminder, of course that she wrote her own musical theatre piece, My Mother Has 4 Noses, about caring for her mother in the last stages of dementia. Brooke has no need to question her artistic worth or integrity, she’s the real thing and when she sings “I’ll be parading high fives on the way outta here”, you can’t help but agree she fully deserves to.

MARISA JACK & DAVY are Marisa Straccia, Jack Sharp and Davy Willis a somewhat diverse trio. They got together in Bedford a few years ago to play at the events they were promoting and have been honing their craft since then. They have been praised by Nicola Keary and Jinwoo and have been dubbed “earthy” and “weird” but in reality they are just approaching the songs in their own way.

Their debut EP is Bring Us In and consists of five traditional songs and one from the celebrated Kipling and Bellamy songwriting partnership. The set opens with ‘Bring Us In Good Ale’ taken at a stately pace with just enough reverb on the verses to suggest monks processing through their cloisters. They maintain that feel as their arrangement of ‘Bushes & Briars’ will put you in mind of a mediæval bard. ‘Nottamun Town’ is a bit weird, you know, and Marisa Jack & Davy emphasise the strangeness of the lyrical contradictions. This is the full version of the song pretty much as recorded by Jean Ritchie.

‘Oak & Ash & Thorn’ comes from Kipling’s mystical period and is also a bit weird and this reading does nothing to negate that. ‘The Sun Rises Bright In France’ is a song of longing and ‘Bows Of London’ is one of best version of the ‘Two Sisters’ story. Whatever happens, Marisa Jack & Davy should be huge before too long.

Singles Bar 46An early Christmas arrival comes from THE MINING Co. with Three Kings (PinDrop), wherein Michael Gallagher offers up five festive treats in his quest to recapture his own memories of Christmases past and a more recent one spent in Spain. Recorded in Andalucia with producer Paco Loco who also contributes Spanish guitar on two tracks.

The first parcel under the tree is the banjo and strings accompanied ‘Long Way To Christmas’ which would seem to draw on Jona Lewie influences  and a Roy Wood kiddies chorus,  followed by the dreamy and smooth Johnny Mathis tones (and Glen Campbell colours) of  ‘Christmas No 1’ (with, yes, sleigh bells). Military snare (a la ‘Little Drummer Boy’) provides the tinsel on ‘Wild Gift’ (from where the album’s Biblical reference title comes), the final trimmings being the Latino samba sway of ‘Ghost Writer’, where his voice finds its deeper range, and the childhood nostalgia of ‘Holloway’, with its picked Spanish guitar and muted rumble of drums, when “every morning was Christmas Day”. One for your Santa wish list, I think.

Singles Bar 46GLORIOUS LEADER’s ‘Borderline’ is the first single from the up-coming EP My Kingdom, which is a wonderful collection of ethereal songs that walk in the acoustic footsteps of the human heart.  Kyle Woolard is the one-man talent here. He’s on leave from the very fine band The Anatomy of Frank, whose album South America was described as “a melodic folk-rock masterpiece.

This solo record travels into intense personal soil; yet as Walt Whitman wrote, “For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you”. So, these songs resonate as a totem for sensitive folks who enjoy a really nice melody. That first song, ‘Borderline’, sings, “I guess we’re all trying to make it work”. That sort of sums up modern life.

As reference points, imagine music filled with the intense quietude of Paul Simon’s ‘Duncan’, Magna Carta’s ‘Living In The Land Of Ulysses’, and the entirety of Bon Iver’s For Emma, Forever Ago.

The rest of the songs echo that gentle melodic pulse. ‘Onism’ has a passionate and irresistible chorus (with great handclaps!). ‘Sweet Louisa’ brings a ukulele, strings, and heavenly harmonies. ’Kyla’ is strummed and slow, and it dances with a few electronic sounds. ‘The Wide Sargasso Sea’ has David Crosby’s ‘Guinevere’ depth. This tune has “green eyes”.

The final song, ‘Half Alive’, is confessional stuff. And it has a hymn-like quality that plucks, with that darn ukulele, some sort of vague hope for a better tomorrow. And that’s a really decent song for any record to sing.

Singles Bar 46Birmingham songstress KATHERINE PRIDDY follows-up her well-received debut EP Wolf, which sold out three pressings,  with a limited edition single ‘Letters From A Travelling Man’ (Static Caravan),  an upbeat, frisky Americana-styled number that takes its inspiration from her experiences of living on the road and the struggles of trying to maintain relationships alongside an unsettled lifestyle.  Paired with  the softer  slower strummed ‘Come and Go’ , a yearning for a  place to call home but  acceptance that everything must inevitably pass, where she duets  with Northern folk singer-songwriter George Boomsma, it’s released digitally as well as a limited run of collectable coloured vinyl alongside a postcard urging the listener to rediscover the lost art of letter-writing.

Singles Bar 46NAVARO release the first single from their forthcoming album. ‘The Fall’, written by Pete White, is described as an “autumnal hymn” and is simply built around acoustic guitar and keyboards with the band’s signature harmonies.

Singles Bar 46THE MAGPIES were originally formed in York in 2017 as a duo of Bella Gaffney and mandolinist Polly Bolton, expanding to become a quartet in 2018 with the addition of cellist Sarah Smout and fiddler Holly Brandon. Drawing on shared and individual influences to create a fusion of Celtic and bluegrass folk, they have a debut album arriving shortly, preceded by the gently flowing download newgrass single ‘Run, River Run’, written by Ganney and originally featured on Bella and Polly’s own self-titled EP, here given extra colour with fiddle and cello.

Singles Bar 46With Brexit in mind, BEANS ON TOAST released his single, ‘England, I Love You’, on October 31st.  It’s full of his familiar biting wit paired with a jolly tune and “patriotic” brass. The song is taken from his forthcoming album, The Inevitable Train Wreck which you will buy if you know what’s good for you.

Singles Bar 46ANNIE DRESSNER has a new self-released album due early 2020, meanwhile she has a taster single in ‘Nyack’, a simply fingerpicked, brushed snares shuffle named for the Orangetown village in Rockland County, New York, a song about memories, her childhood, her brother and leavings.

Siingles Bar 46DUSTY WRIGHT dedicates his acoustic version of ‘Bad Moon Rising’ to the world’s climate change warriors. It’s from his forthcoming album Can Anybody Hear Me? and despite its Dylanish harmonica it ‘s actually rather polite. You can hear all the words, though, possibly for the first time.

Singles Bar 46Israeli singer/songwriter MARBL has a new single, ‘The First Day Of The Rain’. It’s piano driven and drenched with strings and is rather lovely. We’re told that she’s into supporting abandoned animals but that’s not coming over here.

Singles Bar 46‘Battle Ready’ is the single taster and title track from the new EP by Manchester’s JOHN TILLER. It’s a powerful song with solid drums and ringing guitar. Americana but with a British twist.

Singles Bar 46

DARWIN’S DAUGHTER also gets into the festive spirit with ‘Snow Angels In The Rain’  (self-released), her first and last release of 2019, a gently lovely cello and fiddle-sprinkled ballad about transience that comes with a Christmas Edit which replaces the xylophone at the end with jingle bells. Ahh, bless.

Winter With Mandolins re-released

Winter With Mandolins

Originally released in 1992 Winter With Mandolins is always popular at this time of the year.

Features Russian style massed mandolins (‘Christmas Candle’), Celtic inspired arrangements (‘I Saw Three Ships’), highly evocative Basque and Provencal carols, music from Handel’s ‘Royal Fireworks’ and Simon’s own compositions.

Stunning contributions from guests Alan Whetton on soprano saxophone and Brendan Power’s harmonica complete this superb album.

The Instruments: The mandolin, mandola and mandocello used on this recording are modern instruments built, essentially, like their violin family cousins. They incorporate carved tops and backs, bass bars (but no sound posts) and a scale length longer than the traditional Italian round-back.

The design originated in early 20th century America, originally as a classical instrument for the mandolin orchestras hugely popular at this time. Their use later spread to bluegrass and country music. While the round-back has a delicate, harpsichordal quality, the tone of the modern instrument has more of the bloom of the classical guitar, although the strings are metal.

Artist’s website: www.mandolin.co.uk

‘I Saw Three Ships’:

Kate Rusby announces new Christmas album

Kate Rusby

Pure Records presents Holly Head, the 5th Christmas album from award-winning folk singer Kate Rusby.

Like Petrolheads are mad about cars and Cureheads have a thing for Robert Smith, Kate Rusby is a Holly Head. If you hadn’t already spotted from Sweet BellsWhile Mortals SleepThe Frost Is All Over and Angels And Men, she is not only Santa’s biggest musical helper, but she is also an incurable Christmas nerd.

Obsession can lead an individual down many different paths, but in 2019, it has drawn Kate Rusby to her fifth festive long-playing offering. It’s one of the warmest Christmas albums you’ll ever encounter. That’s nowt to do with climate change. Winter is supposed to be the season of barrenness, of Jack Frost nipping at your nose and of needing your big coat. It may get dark at four o’clock and you may become cynically sick of Slade, John Rutter albums and Merry, Merry Christmas by New Kids On The Block by the second week in December, but Holly Head will illuminate and kindle hearts and hearths.

It’s the Christmas album you’ll still be compelled to play, guilt-free, at significant volume, in mid-May.

To begin at the beginning, the very first words that Kate sings are, “People awake; salute the happy morn.” It would take a bleary, grump-laden Scrooge to hear that early on the 25th and not feel somewhat motivated to follow her benevolent orders. When the penultimate track, ‘I Am Christmas’, presents us with, “I am warmth and I am light/ And I am kith and kin./ I am Christmas, let me in”, even Noël naysayers of Dickensian proportions ought to be moved to stand, Spartacus-style and proudly, defiantly declare “I’m Christmas”.

You’re probably more used to Christmas tunes where the music seems somewhat of a vehicle for the more significant words. Holly Head, however, is a modern folk album that also has seasonal lyrics. Even the traditional carols feel new: ‘While Shepherds Watched’ is lush, ‘Bleak Mid-Winter (Yorkshire)’ is atmospheric and from land-locked Barnsley, ‘Yorkshire Three Ships’ sounds like the sonic equivalent of a cracking real ale. The production values that Damien O’Kane brings to the party are the third wise element that ought to draw people to Holly Head from near and far.

A Rusby family Christmas has always been a massive deal. On Holly Head, the arrangements of the songs, resplendent with brass and the electronic effects that have become familiar additions to her sound over the last few albums, resound with the power of community that we’d all like Christmas to represent. “We’ll tune our hearts and raise our voice” (‘Celestial Hearts’) should become the perfect mantra to ward off the type of voice-raising that can occur in some households once a late-afternoon wine haze has descended.

Holly Head is a stocking full of fun. It reclaims the often emptily parroted phrase, “Merry Christmas” and genuinely reminds us that ‘Christmas Is Merry’. ‘Hippo For Christmas’ could bear the alternative title, ‘Christmas Is Daft’, as if you can’t be foolish at Yuletide, when can you? The notion of requesting a hippopotamus for Christmas, on the basis that it can live in the double garage, may bring some awkward last-minute gift demands from young’uns. There’ll be a widespread shortage of gift wrap in the South Yorkshire area if the idea starts to spread. Lumbering playfully, we also manage a sighting of that rarest of beasts, a horn solo.

Plus we get to update ourselves on how Big Brave Bill’s life has progressed since he last saved Christmas in 2017. No spoilers on this one. Suffice to say a lot’s been going on for our hero. You’ll have to hear for yourself.

You could ask for Holly Head under the tree at Christmas, but (aside from the retail eternity in the shops) Christmas surely begins with Advent on December 1st and Holly Head comes out on November 29th. That said, listening to these twelve songs for just over three weeks, you’re likely to add to your letter to Santa requests for excellent speakers, a mixing desk, tuba lessons and, quite possibly, your very own hippo.

Artist’s website: https://katerusby.com/

Flemish trio Ward Dhoore – new album and live dates

Ward Dhoore

Ward Dhoore – Acoustic Guitar & Mandolin + Hartwin Dhoore – Diatonic Accordion + Koen Dhoore – Electro Acoustic Hurdy Gurdy

Their new album, August, consists of nine instrumental chapters inspired by the story of a Flemish fisherman called August who survived over thirty three dangerous journeys between Flanders and Iceland in the 18th century in order to feed his family back home.

A man who never gave up and in doing so became an inspiration to many. August is a purified collection of self-written tunes by the Dhoore brothers; the result of making music together for almost ten years. Diatonic accordion, hurdy gurdy, guitar, and electronic effects complement each other seamlessly in the musical soundscape that this album is set.

Trio Dhoore are a young and talented band of musical brothers from Flanders in Belgium; they formed their trio in 2010. Their extensive repertoire of traditional Flemish tunes is punctuated by song and many of their own compositions. This mix all goes to provide their audiences — Classical, World, Folk — with a soundscape where traditional and contemporary music, melancholy melodies and intuitive interplay merge to unique effect. The brothers Dhoore, Koen, Hartwin & Ward present their instrumental music in a very dynamic way – writing and playing many of their own compositions – whilst at the same time they breathe life and energy into traditional Flemish music with a skill that belies their ages.

Through the years the brothers have created their own musical identity that has attracted many listeners from far beyond the Flemish borders. Highlights such as Festival Dranouter (Belgium), Rudolstadt (Germany), Shetland FMF (Scotland), Sidmouth Folk Week (England), Féte de la Vielle (France), Körro FMF (Sweden) and Kaustinen FMF (Finland) are only a few examples of their many successful festival appearances. The brothers have just been nominated for the European Folk Music Award ‘Eiserner Eversteiner’ (the final takes place in December 2019).

UK Tour Dates November 2019

Friday 8. Ruskin Mill Old Bristol Road, Nailsworth, Gloucestershire GL6 0LA

Saturday 9. The Watson Institute Castle Carrock, Raysdale, Brampton, Carlisle, Cumbria CA8 9LT

Sunday 10. House Concert – Edinburgh

Monday 11. Hexham Library Queen’s Hall Arts Centre Beaumont St, Hexham, Northumberland NE46 3LS

Kim Thompsett announces long-awaited second album

KIm Thompsett

Kim Thompsett presents her second album The Hollows – available on CD, vinyl and digital download. Exploring themes that are rooted in nature, mysticism and the arcane, this music sends the listener on a lush trip to eras past.

Recorded at Broadoak Studios in Bexhill, East Sussex over a four-year period, this album was mixed, mastered and produced by Harvey Summers, well known for his work with Paul McCartney, Daniel Lanois, Moby, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, Ellie Ford, Danny Thompson (Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel, Nick Drake, Pentangle), Hossam Ramzy (Peter Gabriel, Led Zeppelin), Cutting Crew and Divine Comedy, among others.Earlier this year, she released the lead track ‘Woebetide Hill’ single, followed by ‘Moonchild’s Lullaby’ as the second single. ‘The Hollows’ is the long-awaited follow-up to Songs From The Uglee Meadow, her debut album, released in 2008.

The Hollows evokes an archaic atmosphere and nuances of Celtic and medieval times. At the same time, it branches out into a more experimental and eclectic idiom with a more diverse range of instrumentation and more sophisticated production. Songs celebrating ancient connections with forest, with earth, with sky and with water – the shedding of ego and an immersion in the universe. The music itself is most reminiscent of the English folk of the ’70’s with a few other genres for good measure.

“I wanted to make an album that was primarily something I would enjoy listening to. If other people like it too, that’s great. Having come to fruition some ten years after the debut album, I wanted to ensure it was a natural progression from the previous work and that the songs were manifested in the fully-developed compositions that only the songwriter can hear during the creative process”, says Thompsett.

Kim Thompsett has been writing songs and performing, both solo and with various bands, for around twenty years. Her music has attracted a niche following of primarily pagan and traditional folk music fans with a penchant for nature and literary references.

The album artwork was especially commissioned and created by Gary Williamson. The animated video for ‘Moonchild’s Lullaby’, created by James Wright, magically brings the album artwork to life. He explains, “We settled on the concept of bringing the album artwork to life, including some of Kim’s suggestions (e.g. critters moving across the landscape, stars twinkling, and pushing snowdrops from underneath). Here, we start underground and push up through the earth into the wood. We then continue through the woods till we arrive at the burial mound. Everything in the video is cut out digitally from the original artwork except the cocoon hanging in the tree and the earth at the beginning screen. I used the cutouts to create separate planes, which allowed me to create perspective and, of course, more trees. I also managed to animate a few features of the artwork.”Released via Meniscus Hump Records, The Hollows can be ordered directly from the artist via Bandcamp.

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Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/KimThompsett/

‘Moonchild’s Lullaby’ – official video: