Seeker Lover Keeper is the arresting meeting-of-minds of three of the finest female songwriters working today. Sarah Blasko, Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby are all critically acclaimed, award-winning solo artists in their own right, and Seeker Lover Keeper is not just an album but a love token, a musical keepsake to cherish.

The seed for Seeker Lover Keeper was initially a way for the three long-term friends to tour together, singing each others’ songs every night. It was Sally who suggested instead that the three of them form a band, and Sally who came up with the name – “I just really love those three words together and how it suggested that one (of us) is the Seeker, one is the Lover and one is the Keeper.”

Seeker Lover Keeper became a haven where disparate song ideas that required outside help or another voice were traded and worked on – often one performer would bring a song to the table with someone else’s voice in mind, notably on the Sally-penned, Holly-sung single ‘Even Though I’m A Woman.’ Although Sally had written for others before – notably with Feist on ‘1,2,3,4’ – it was the first time Holly or Sarah had penned for voices other than their own, yet the result is a truly collaborative effort.

The album was recorded in just two weeks in New York, and produced by the band along with Victor Van Vugt (Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Athlete, Beth Orton). Beginning with the hushed reverence of the Blasko-sung ‘Bring Me Back’, the 11 tracks that make up ‘Seeker Lover Keeper’ take in romance, affection, resignation and devotion, with music that is almost cinematic in its evocative quality. An early, and critical, song in the writing process was album closer ‘Rest Your Head On My Shoulder’, which was designed to be sung round the piano by all three artists. The song’s refrain “Rest your head on my shoulder and I’ll take care of your worries / It was you who promised this to me / It was you who offered me courage” perfectly encapsulates the spirit of unity and intimacy that emanates throughout the album.

Despite their separate successes and experience, all three members of Seeker Lover Keeper found the writing and recording process to be an education. When Holly brought ‘Light All My Lights’ to the group, Sarah and Sally were initially unable to grasp how she envisaged the out-of-kilter, double-time beat underneath the song, but as the three of them became accustomed to each other’s methods of working they all found new ways to write. “When you’re so used to singing your own stuff, you get in your own patterns” says Sarah, “Working with them shook me up a bit, in being able to get inside someone else’s world.” The more classically trained Sally brought her experience of music theory to the group, which was a totally new experience for Holly and Sarah.

As a result, ‘Seeker Lover Keeper’ sees the three performers crafting songs in new ways with always exquisite results. Whether it’s the lovelorn declaration and skittering beats of ‘Rely On Me’, the slowed-down blues of ‘Going To Sleep’ or the shuffling ‘Theme 1’, the album continues to surprise and delight with each new turn. Whichever of the girls – Sarah, Holly or Sally – is on main vocals, each song still rests on a bed of the others’ voices, such as on the gorgeous ‘If The Night Is Dark’ or the almost campfire singalong of ‘Bridges Burned.’ Lyrically the album encompasses matters of the heart and mind but also of the universe itself – ‘We Will Know What It Is’ is a gorgeously picked acoustic lament on the nature of life.

It’s clear that ‘Seeker Lover Keeper’ the album is the start of something truly beautiful – a band strengthened by the bonds of friendship and the individual experiences of life as a solo artist, who will carry on making music that intrigues and challenges each other and their listeners.

‘Seeker Lover Keeper’ is the first release from Microdata Records, distributed byADA/ Warner.

Are there any women here? Bearded Theory 2011 review

In the quest to experience something new every year, it was the turn of The Bearded Theory to fulfil this self-indulgence.

Situated in the picturesque grounds of Kedleston Hall, in my home county of Derbyshire, the Bearded Theory Festival took place from 13 -15th May this year.  An eclectic mix of music, entertainment, characters with never a dull moment.

It was the Festival’s third year, but it’s first year at Kedleston Hall.  An easy-to-reach venue that was easy on the eye but which was also a celebrity site, having been the key location for the Keira Knightley film “The Duchess”.    The site was well-proportioned, with many delights for old and young alike.  The weather decided to be surprisingly co-operative, but in the sparse times of rain, there was cover to take refuge under.

Why ‘Bearded Theory Festival’, I hear you ask?  Well, during the festival, there was a guiness book of record attempt for the “most amount of fancy dress Beards in one place and at one time”.  What an opportunity to achieve another first of being able to say that I was part of a record attempt and also to be able to wear a beard and enact a favourite Monty Python scene… “Are there any women here?”  Fantastic.

The main attraction of the Festival were ‘The Waterboys’ (officially) and what an act they were.  Absolutely brilliant, a stunning set.  The sheer understated showmanship of Mike Scott with his Jaggeresque arrogance and superb musicianship; the flamboyant fiddle skills of Steve Wickham; and the brilliance support of the other members of the band created a feast for the ears and the feet!

Why were they the main attraction officially?  Well, X-Factor reject, Wagner, was this year’s curiosity and faux-star feature and that is all the publicity I am going to give him in this review.

There were three main areas for the music.  The Main Stage; The Beard Top and the Magical Sounds Area with so many great acts playing across the weekend.  In no particular order; Dan Donnelly; 3 Daft Monkeys (The stalwart and honorary patrons of the Festival); Ferocious Dog (great name); The Whip; The Undertones; Justin Sullivan  of New Model Army fame; an awesome Swiss trio – Mama Rosin; Dub Pistols; The Bad Shepherds; Martha Tilston; Little Jonny England; Trans Global Underground; Athlete; Eddie and The Hot Rods.  Apologies to any one who I have missed out, but you were all excellent.

Whereas the Friday and Saturday were the opportunity for me to experience the Festival as a “grown-up”, I had the privilege to experience the Sunday as a “family day”.  Accompanied by my children, siblings and their younger children, we trooped along to the festival to see what else it offered for those not so enamoured by the music.  What a treat; – there was face-painting; craft activities; hula-hooping; hunt for the Gruffalo (found him and got a hug!); bouncy slide; bedtime fireside story;  Then there was the food; yum – something for all palates and not that pricey too – always a bonus!!!  For the retail therapy aficionados, then stalls to peruse and purchase from and of course, a variety of beards to deliberate over for the record attempt.  Then to wind down and relax, a calming massage that soothed the muscles and the mind.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend and one that I hope to repeat next year and maybe even brave the camping!  I definitely recommend this festival.  There is entertainment galore and not just from the artists, but from members of the audience as well.  Book now for next year’s event (18th, 19th, 20th May 2012) peeps and wear your beards with pride!!

Sarah Burch 2011 

Festival weblink:

Folking Bearded Theory 2011 photo set: