SINGLES BAR 80 – A round-up of recent EPs and singles

Singles Bar 80Hailing from Edmonton and currently living on the indigenous communities of Treaty Six Territory & Unceded Kanien’kehà:ka Territory, Mallory Chipman and Frédrique “Freddi” MacDougall are the marvellously named THE GODDAMSELS making their debut with the Wayward Daughter EP (Royalty Records).  Musically, they’re rooted in old time country, as evidenced by the bouncy, fiddle-featuring title track with its catchy chorus, a long distance love song between friends, written by Chipman when she was in Edmonton and MacDougall was in Montreal. The acoustic strummed ‘Rollanda’ is a biographical tribute to Edmonton jazz singer Rollanda Lee, who passed away in 2020, and, like everything elsewhere, showcases the duo’s close harmonies, while, elsewhere, the gently rippling, pedal steel streaked ‘Take Care’ is about having the courage to reach out for help in times of trouble, the swaying ‘See You Next Time’ addresses how grief can bring families closer together, ‘Catch Myself’ has a folksy Bangles flavour and the country-pop ‘Sorry’ rides a chugging bassline riff as they sing about taking personal accountability. There’s any number of female harmony duos on the Americana scene right now, but The Goddamsels have what it takes to stand out from the crowd.

From their recently released eponymous debut album, FRITILLARIES take a second single, ‘Head In Hands’ and at first hearing of Hannah Pawson’s voice you’ll think of Kate Bush. That is reinforced by Kit Massey’s piano accompaniment which sounds rather too dramatic for a pastoral song until you realise that she’s really singing about life in the city and the grind of having to earn a living.

Fresh from Glastonbury, JENNY COLQUITT narrates modern human life as a battlefield on her self-released new standalone end of tether (“this life of mine is killing me inside”) single ‘Soldier Of The Modern Day’. Starting out with a simple fingerpicked acoustic and pastoral ambience and the questioning “Is anybody out here?/Is anybody hearing us?/Is anybody round the corner?/Is anybody in love?“, as she sings about fighting for the human race, it builds to a soaring, muscular anthem as it tackles issues such as parental shielding (“Take my life, don’t take my children, leave them all behind”) before quietly ebbing away.

Tongan Town is a song about a town in Tonga. It’s also the new digital single by LEWIS BARFOOT who actually lived there. If she had lived in the West Indies it would have been reggae but it has that same laid-back groove provided by Matt Dibble on clarinet and Elizabeth Flett on fiddle and ukulele. A happy summer song that should be a radio hit at the very least.

A founder member of both Astrid and The Reindeer Section, Isle of Lewis singer-songwriter WILLIE CAMPBELL self-releases ‘The Film Begins’, a poignant Celtic Country, pedal steel flavoured waltzer about the grieving process, the longing to speak with someone’s who’s passed and the day to day moments we take for granted until we no longer have them.

Thumping drums introduce ‘The Devil’s Pulpit’, the new single by RUSTY SHACKLE, the folk-rock band from South Wales. Lots of fiddle drive the song and Liam Collins’ vocal carry it while it packs a lot into less than four minutes. The guys have been around for a while so why aren’t they famous yet? There is an album on the way. 

A songwriter, lyricist, writer, music teacher and photographer, LINDA LAMON trails her upcoming self-released third album 70 (a cheeky nod to Adele) with ‘Freedom For Me’. Probably the only song to ever reference The River Goy, a Mersey tributary in the North West, written by Lamon and previously recorded by soprano Katerina Mina, about not being slave to material things it’s been stripped back to its folk roots for a rich and dark but summery feel, her voice soaring over fiddle, John Breese’s Spanish guitar and Beth Porter’s classical cello accompaniment.

SCULLION are veterans of the Irish music scene. Formed in the mid-seventies, they are led by Sonny Condell of Tír na nÓg who wrote their new single, ‘All The Bells In Spain’, taken from their recent album Time Has Made A Change In Me. It’s an unashamedly happy song, a little sentimental perhaps but that’s no bad thing given that Sonny wrote it to avoid having to give a speech at his daughter’s wedding.

A native of Northumbria, for her second self-released single, accompanying herself on double tracked vocals, FRANKIE ARCHER has recorded a striking a cappella cover of ‘Close The Coalhouse Door’, a song about pit disasters, written by Alex Glasgow, a pitman’s son from Gateshead, for a BBC radio programme that later became the title song for his and Alan Plater’s 1968 stage musical, the version here including the ‘bairns’ verse added following the Aberfan tragedy.

Orchestral chords introduce ‘Islands Over Time’, the new single by AND DID THOSE FEET. Lead vocals are by Welsh singer and Eisteddfod winner, Ina Williams, and somehow you can recognise her nationality before she begins to sing. That has a lot to do with the writing by Richard Ellin and arranging by Harvey Summers – the song just feels Welsh. The B-side, if we can still call it that, is ‘Who Fills These Eyes’, a slightly more conventional folky song, and And Did Those Feet are currently working on their seventh album.

The recent wave of Gaelic songs is added to by County Clare’s LAURA MULCAHY who, taken from her third album, Sub Nubibus Margarita, draws on the traditional female genre of the lament for a lost beloved with the beautiful ‘Cúmha í Ndiaidh Aisling Shéanta’, here, her crystal pure soaring voice accompanied by Eamonn deBarra, addressing the grief and hopelessness resulting from  hundreds of murdered women in Ireland over three decades and a reminder that the final stage of grief will never be reached, the final verse translating roughly as “An apple drops/Off the tree of loneliness/And is eaten by worms”.

GEORGE SANSOME, he of Granny’s Attic, returns to solo work with a digital single, ‘Rosa’. Solo being a relative term these days, George is accompanied by Owen Spafford on fiddle who manages to be delicate and forceful simultaneously. The song is traditional, sometimes called ‘The Pride Of The Vale’ and comes from the Hammond & Gardiner manuscripts.

In advance of their debut album, Great, comes ‘Tall Buildings’ by MUTTERING. It’s archetypal indie rock but it earns its money by its overtly political content. The album’s title is meant to be ironic.

‘Last Goodbye’ is a new single by Oldham singer-songwriter and regular busker TOMMY JACK meditating on death and loss. It comes from the heart and it says things that everyone can understand: “I don’t know how to feel” but it is also full of regret and memories. Basically, just guitar and voice with a fine solo towards the end but that’s all it needs.

It’s not ‘Hotel California’ but ‘Hotel In LA’, the new single from KRAMIES, is something of an epic. Based on a piece of memorabilia – a letter from an old friend – it sounds like the whole city is playing along.

‘Hunger’ is the new single by A.O. GERBER. It has a great sound but a glance at the video reinforces the weirdness of the ideas as A.O. is fed, sometimes very messily, in lavish surroundings. A.O. has a new album on the way and a UK tour in November.

BRÍDÍN is a harper from Co. Sligo and is carrying on her family tradition of playing music and being a funeral director. ‘Hideaway’ is her new single and the opening track of her debut album of the same name. Think Enya with bite and you’re close.

‘Gaslight’ is a song for our times as ROWSIE put a more political spin on the word with January 6th forefront in their minds. Taken from their EP, Searching, it begins with layered jangly guitars and builds up into all-out rock with Holly Henderson’s stunning lead guitar forcing the pace.

Glasgow band QUICK are described as “newgrass” and there is more than a hint of American fiddle and mandolin about them. Their new single, ‘Lymonds Wynd’, is about a late night in a Glasgow street and we’ve all been there: we should be going home but another drink won’t hurt. ‘Acoustic funk’ might also be an apt description.