Irish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings

Heidi Talbot Angels Without WingsIrish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings

Former Cherish The Ladies Vocalist’s New Release Features Collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien and More

Acclaimed Irish songstress Heidi Talbot presents Angels Without Wings, a new collection of stunning original compositions, many co-written with  long time collaborator with Boo Hewerdine, featuring some of the most notable players and singers from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass.  The new album will be released by the Compass Records Group on January 29th.

When Mark Knopfler and Jerry Douglas offered to play on Heidi Talbot’s new album, they thoughtfully recorded their parts in several different styles – some were instantly recognizable, others more low-key. Talbot’s husband, producer and band-mate John McCusker joked, “you’ve got the best guitar players in the world and we’re blending them in?” But both musicians knew that for Talbot, the song always comes before the name.

Subtlety is Talbot’s magic ingredient – from her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material that earned her rave reviews for her 2008 breakthrough In Love And Light. The girl from Ireland’s Co. Kildare, who spent several years in New York as a member of the Irish-American super-group Cherish The Ladies, slips effortlessly between musical worlds but retains a personal penchant for traditional folk.

Talbot began writing songs on her 2010 album The Last Star. In just two years she’s become a master of the art, sometimes composing alone, sometimes with McCusker and Boo Hewerdine(who form her touring band). Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) became a new creative foil for Talbot recently. The pair became a song-writing team recently after discovering a mutual admiration for each other’s music: “He was asked to pick his fantasy band for The Independent and he picked me and Morten Harket from A-ha on joint lead vocals,” Talbot laughs. She conceived the melody for “Button Up” – a brooding, urgent acoustic love song – with Anderson in mind, and he sent back his own lyrics.

“At home we listen to Belle And Sebastian and Teenage Fan Club as much as we do The Fureys and Mary Black,” she says, of her song-writing’s broad appeal. The best modern folk music gets right to the heart of human drama while remaining oblique about time and place: “Wine & Roses” is a poignant contemporary reminiscence about young lovers “holding hands and rubbing noses”; “I’m Not Sorry” is a mini-psychodrama written from a single moment of reflection – “I felt it, so it can’t be wrong to sing about it.”

And while the timeless language of traditional folk will always be an inspiration, there are traces of Americana in “When The Roses Come Again” (featuring Mark Knopfler), a delicate country-tinged duet with bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, and Parisian romance in the unforgettable title track by Boo Hewerdine, laced with vintage accordion.

Talbot and McCusker were keen to capture the spontaneity of performance: the album was recorded live in Glasgow’s new Gorbals Sound Studios with her regular team including Ian Carr (guitars), Phil Cunningham (accordian), Michael McGoldrick (flutes/whistles), James Mackintosh (percussion), Boo Hewerdine (acoustic guitar) and Ewan Vernal (bass). “If people made mistakes we’d just keep going,” says Heidi. “On some of the tracks you can even hear the harmonium creaking. These guys are friends, they all give their opinion. They’ll say, “That’s it! That’s the take!’”

Talbot’s close-knit creative environment has fostered her confidence as a songwriter while allowing her to welcome in surprising new collaborators. These ever-evolving musical relationships can be heard on this, her most sophisticated and vibrant recording to date.

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Folking.com’s favourite Radio 2 moment…

The Radio 2 Folk Awards are chosen and voted for by a panel of professionals (broadcasters, promoters, festival organisers and record companies) who all work in the world of folk, acoustic and roots music. These people (now in their hundreds) are asked to nominate and vote for the people that they consider to have produced and performed the most outstanding work during the past 12 months.

For folking.com the 2002 Folk Awards was a haven for such music. It not only celebrated the pioneers of the genre but also gave birth to something very special, a new energised passion for the music and a new set of ambassadors for the tradition.

Many of the artists that pioneered the folk-culture movement in the early “noughties” were in the room on the night of 11 February 2002. There were performances from Eliza Carthy and Cerys Matthews. “The Barnsley Nightingale,” Kate Rusby, performed “Who Will Sing Me Lullabies” which she had written for the late, great singer-songwriter Davy Steel. Martin Simpson’sThe Bramble Briar”, (in my opinion one of the greatest folk albums of all time), was awarded “Best Album”. Arguably the greatest ambassador of the tradition, Martin Carthy, was awarded “Folk Singer of the Year” and the icing on the cake was having him accompany Martin Simpson on his live version of the much-missed Cyril Tawney’s classic “Sammy’s Bar”. The award for Best Group was such a close run thing that year, that either Show of Hands, Old Blind Dogs or Tarras could have pipped Cherish the Ladies to the number-one spot post. The “Guv’nor,” Ashley Hutchings, presented Nettlebed Folk Club with the “Good Tradition Award and Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull presented the “fabulous, fruity, funky, fecund, Fairport 5Fairport Convention, with a “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Best Live Act went to the rambling, constantly-touring inspiration that is Rory McLeod.

Willy Russell presented Ralph McTell, (in my view, one of the finest singer-song writer of all time), with the second of the night’s “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Jim Moir, the man that cared enough to put the money and passion behind the Folk Awards idea in the first place and the man that presided over the format and programming of Radio 2 at the turn of the century to make it the most listened to Radio Show in the country, awarded The ChieftainsIrelands Musical Ambassadors” with, the third of the night’s  “Lifetime Achievement Award”. I clearly remember the first words Jim said when he came out on stage “What an evening”. It certainly was Jim!

Out of all of the live acts mentioned above, any of them could have been chosen as a classic performance. However, I have chosen Cara Dillon’s “Black is the Colour” as my favourite of the night.

For folking.com, this performance represented the beginning of this exciting new change in folk music, as it was the first time in years that a folk artist and a traditional folk song were taking pride of place on the Radio 2 playlist. Johnny Walker, who presented Cara with the award for “Best Traditional Track”, summed it up perfectly by saying that “Cara had the courage to resist corporate pressure to commercialise her music and change it to try and get it to a wider audience and instead the audience has come to her”. This was an important point which could be cited as one of the fundamental reasons why the music is so strong today. A certain pre-Mercury Music prize nominee, Seth Lakemen (now truly an ambassador in his own right), accompanied Cara on backing vocals. The whole piece was woven together beautifully by the piano arrangements written and performed by Seth’s brother, Sam Lakeman. Darren Beech – June 2011

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CHERISH THE LADIES – A Star In The East (Big Mammy Records 0004)

Is it really that time of year? Well, it must be as Cherish The Ladies release another seasonal album. And what better way than a bright and breezy opening set of tunes “A Dash For The Presents/Joy To The World/Parnell’s March”. You can just picture the girls sitting round an open fire and a Christmas tree much like a scene from “It’s A Wonderful Life” enjoying a good old fashioned session. Now joined by relative newcomer Michelle Burke who’s blessed with a gently lilting Irish brogue for a beautiful rendition of Robbie O’Connell’s “All On A Christmas Morning” and a sublime “First Noel” they certainly know how to weave a web of interlinking melodies led by the sparking whistle playing of Joannie Madden. Also bringing their instrumental talents to the banquet are Mary Coogan (guitar, mandolin & banjo), Roisin Dillon (fiddle), Mirella Murray (Accordion) and Kathleen Boyle on piano plus some special guests. The ladies revitalise many standards including “Greensleeves”, “Deck The Halls” and that perennial favourite “Jingle Bells” and there’s even a couple of Country hoe-down tracks “Home On Time For Christmas” and “Rise Up Shepherd And Follow” (featuring Joannie on lead vocals) that surprisingly don’t sound out of place. So, an album that is full of bonhomie and one that I’m sure will prove popular with the whole family and not just those of a ‘folk music’ persuasion.

PETE FYFE

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Artist’s website: www.cherishtheladies.com

Cherish The Ladies – The Girls Won’t Leave The Boys Alone

Cherish The Ladies - The Girls Won't Leave The Boys AloneWelcome back to the girls! Mind you, on listening to the opening track ‘The Broom Of The Cowdenknowes’ I thought I was listening to The Rankin Family such is the power of the ensemble vocal performance.

The chosen path of the album seems to be heading towards a more mainstream audience with more songs than on previous outings. In their choice of Deirdre Connolly as lead vocalist, the girls have impeccably hit the mark again although she is aided and abetted by some legendary artists including the Clancy’s ‘Freeborn Man’ plus a veritable star-studded roster. Pete Seeger, Davy Spillane and Luka Bloom the list just goes on… Surrounded by such illustrious company, CTL should hopefully have found a vehicle in which to project themselves to that elusive wider audience.

I haven’t had the album off the turntable since I received it – Ten out of Ten!

Original Posting date – 12-June-2001
Reviewers Name – Pete Fyfe

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