Spell Songs announce their second album

Spell Songs
Photograph by Elly Lucas

Spell Songs, the ensemble created in 2018, is to release their second album Spell Songs II: Let The Light In, on 10 December 2021 via Thirty Tigers Worldwide. The announcement is lead with single ‘Oak’, fronted by Orkney songwriter Kris Drever.

Spell Songs II: Let The Light In features the multifaceted talents and collaborative genius of the Spell Songs ensemble: Karine Polwart, Julie Fowlis, Seckou Keita, Kris Drever, Rachel Newton, Beth Porter and Jim Molyneux. Individually they are hugely respected artists; as a group the Spell Singers bring a wealth of vocal talent and multi-instrumental virtuosity to Spell Songs II, embracing a diverse range of instruments from kora to electroharp, cello to Indian harmonium, with musical and linguistic influences spanning from Orkney to Senegal.

This new album draws inspiration from the creatures, art and language in the acclaimed The Lost Words and The Lost Spells books by renowned author Robert Macfarlane and award-winning artist Jackie Morris. The release of The Lost Words in 2017 began as a response to nature words being dropped from a standard Children’s English Dictionary and grew to become a much broader protest at the loss of the natural world around us. Robert and Jackie’s recently published The Lost Spells gave voice and presence to yet more birds, animals and flora, and became a wonderful new source of material for the second album, inspiring tracks such as ‘Bramble’, ‘Thrift’, ‘Swallow’ and ‘Red Is Your Art’ from the Red Fox spell.

Each song may have originated within the hearts of one or two of the musicians, but through communal creative respect and generous musicianship these acorns of ideas were soon turned into truly collaborative works resulting in another stunning and unique album that shines with a heartfelt passion, energy and sincerity. Today’s announcement is led by new single ‘Oak’, a steadfast folk-rock ballad fronted by Orkney-born singer Kris Drever.

“Some things are hard work, but that tune was unbidden. It could have been ‘written’ in any number of centuries. The incantation from the Oak spell wrapped itself so easily around the melody that we had to keep it. Rob and I started the lyrics by exploring the number of uses that humans have now and have had through time for the oak’s timber. In the writing, it left me with a real tangible idea of symbiosis; how far would we have gotten without this tree? Without ships, tools, ink, shelter, furniture, wheels, toys, cradles, caskets – and on, and on, and on…”

Produced and recorded by Andy Bell of Hudson Records at Real World Studios, the album comprises fifteen eclectic songs with folk, world, experimental, folk-rock, alt-country, classical and traditional elements which capture the essence of the Lost books. The intimacy and power of the music of Spell Songs II is interwoven with little gifts of spoken voice, whispers, accents, dialects, native languages, birdsong, the bark of foxes, the soft sound of a moth’s wing, even the impassioned voices of a children’s climate strike; it is a truly magical listening experience.

Artists’ website: www.thelostwords.org

‘Oak’ – official video:

Live dates

Thursday 27 January – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall – A Celtic Connections performance
Friday 28 January – Perth Concert Hall
Saturday 29 January – Sage Gateshead
Sunday 30 January – Birmingham Symphony Hall
Monday 31 January / Tuesday 1 February – Cadogan Hall, London (with Special Guest Robert Macfarlane)