Jackie Oates: new album

Jackie Oates
Photograph courtesy of The Oxford Times

We are proud to announce the release of the seventh studio album, The Joy Of Living, by Jackie Oates. It’s a record that covers an intensely personal period of her life, in which she celebrated the birth of her daughter Rosie and bid an emotional and loving farewell to her beloved father.

The Joy Of Living features songs made famous by folk greats including Ewan McColl, Lal Waterson and Davey Steele, as well as carefully picked songs from contemporary artists such as John Lennon and Darwin Deez – all interpreted in Jackie’s inimitable style.

Recorded at home in Jackie’s kitchen (with baby Rosie in attendance) she collaborated with fellow Imagined Village alumni and producer Simon Richmond to create this intimate, touching and uplifting collection. The album also features performances by friends from the world of folk including Mike Cosgrave, Barney Morse Brown, John Parker and Jack Rutter.

Born and raised on folk music, Jackie Oates started her career as a finalist in the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards in 2003. Since then she has been nominated for twelve BBC Folk awards; at the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards she scooped Best Newcomer and Best Traditional Track on the same night.

Jackie will be performing at festivals throughout the summer and is on tour in November 2018 and February 2019.

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‘The Joy Of Living’ – live:

MEGSON – Good Times Will Come Again (EDJ Records EDJ021)

Good Times Will Come AgainFor the first time in the twelve years they’ve been making music together, Teeside husband and wife duo Stu and Debbie Hanna have, in response to fan demand, recorded an album of all original material, although, as you would imagine, these are, like previous self-penned numbers still influenced by the Tyneside folk tradition and sung in a distinctive regional accent. The songs that make up Good Times Will Come Again are not autobiographical, but rather a collection of observations of the life of your average working man and woman in contemporary Britain. As such, there’s plenty of political input as subjects span the plight of Teeside steelworkers (all the more pertinent in the light of the current Tata situation), refugees and zero-hour contracts.

The album kicks off with ‘Generation Rent’, a lively mandolin-driven number about the property ladder and how, with rising house prices and static wages, the younger generation is finding it increasingly hard to get a foot on the bottom rung, condemned to rent or live with their parents, even when they have families of their own. Yet even here, they find room for wit in the lines ‘on that glorious day my darling daughter comes to say I want to introduce gran to my fella. I say go down and tell her, she’s living in the cellar.’

The musical mood takes a more melancholic tone with ‘A Prayer For Hope’, a simple guitar strummed sketch of those risking their lives to cross oceans in search of a better life, the duo’s harmonies bearing testament to their early choir days. There’s an equally sorrowful air to the traditional colours of ‘The Bonny Lad’, a number inspired by the Northumbrian pipe and fiddle tune of the same name, as a mother lays to rest her son, another victim of ‘the worst of men and all they can destroy.’

Returning to their own backyard, featuring John Parker on double bass, ‘Burn Away’ is the first of two songs addressing the Teeside steel industry, a traditional flavoured, banjo-led snapshot of the daily routine in the steelwork furnaces in which you can almost feel the heat and taste the sweat, the line ‘the day there is no use for steel will be the day the world stops turning’ a prescient rallying cry to save the homegrown industry. Debbie also takes lead on the second of the two, ‘Patterns’, a gentle ballad laced with sorrowful fiddle inspired by last year’s closure of the Redcar steelworks sung in the voice of wife offering her support to a husband struggling to find work after being made redundant, but trying to keep up his family’s spirits by not showing his despair.

Unsurprisingly the effect of unemployment and poor wages on ordinary families plays a prominent part in the songs. Sawing fiddle drives the throbbing ‘Pushing On’, Stu taking lead on a song about families working all hours just to stay afloat and how “life is surely meant for living not just coping day by day”, while ‘Zero’ is a jaunty mandola and fiddle led morris-like counting song romp about being stuck with the uncertainty of a zero hours contract.

It’s not all so downbeat. Despite its mournful tune and the sparse guitar and fiddle accompaniment, ‘Rap’er Te Bank’, the lyrics derived from the industrial dialect of the 19th century Durham pit yards and the title from the cry miners would give for the cage to be sent down the shaft to bring them to the surface, is actually a love story about one of the pit workers and the lass he meets one July day. There’s love too in ‘The Bookkeeper’, a simple acoustic ballad with Patrick Duffin on percussion that tells of a Billingham bookkeeper’s undeclared love for the chief accountant’s clerk and features the uplifting chorus of “you can put a price on gold, on almost anything for I’ve been told, but the love that the true heart holds never can be sold”. Only when he learns she’s leaving does he summon up the courage to tell, her how he feels. Whether she returns his affections is never told, but given the album’s gospel country tinged duetted closing title track, Debbie on accordion, optimism rather than seems to be in the air. Of course, paying off your debts and every man and woman standing as equals may all be pipe dreams, but without hope what would be the point of getting out of bed. Megson know there are dark clouds in the sky, but they still set their alarm clock.

Mike Davies

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Artists’ website: http://www.megsonmusic.co.uk/

‘Burn Away’ – official video:

JOSIENNE CLARKE AND BEN WALKER – Nothing Can Bring Back The Hour (Folk Room)

ClarkeWalker_HourHailing from Sussex and Evesham respectively, the pair are steeped in the folk traditions of English songwriting with influences drawn from, among others, Sandy Denny, Richard and Linda Thompson, June Tabor, Nick Drake and Bert Jansch. Their joint debut, Seas Are Deep, was a collection of well-known traditional numbers, while the follow up, Fire & Fortune, mixed traditional and self-penned material to sublime effect.

Taking its title from Wordsworth’s Intimations of Mortality, with the sort of pensive and melancholic mood that implies, the same applies here, Clarke writing the words and music and providing recorder, sax and flute with Walker handling the orchestration arrangements and playing guitars, mandolin, banjo and keys, joined by John Parker on double bass, Ruairi Glasheen on percussion and Jim Moray on piano as well as an array of backing musicians on strings and brass.

Of the three traditional numbers, it’s fair to say that the best known will be ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’, Clarke’s fairly familiar forlorn interpretation offset by a bold arrangement that weaves its way from keyboard drone through medieval coloured flute to puttering drum rhythm, Spanish guitar and parping sax. Introduced by willowy recorder and flute, it’s preceded by the courtly textures of ‘The Queen of Hearts’, cello and acoustic guitar crafting a stately pavane setting, while the third offering is a more traditional folk reading of ‘I Wonder What Is Keeping My True Love Tonight’ accompanied simply by fingerpicked guitar.

With its pizzicato violin and lush strings, self-penned, dreamy ballad opener, ‘Silverline’, is an early taster of the new richness and delicacy in Walker’s classical inspired arrangements, a development reinforced by the short, cello and violin accompanied ‘A Simple Refrain’ on which Clarke’s joined on vocals by Sam Brookes for a tender love song swathed in pastoral clouds.

Things heat up a little rhythmically on ‘It Would Not Be A Rose’, strings circling around acoustic guitar and hand percussion as Samantha Whates’ backing vocals blend with Clarke’s pure, leafy tones. ‘The Tangled Tree’ is another number steeped in natural imagery that addresses its theme of caged spirits and the cruel passing of time with a slow sonic gathering built upon ghostly multi-tracked backing vocals, somber piano and backwards guitar.

Things take a diversion for both ‘I Never Learned French’, a reverie of regret in a retro 30s frame, dawn breaking over the Paris skyline to the strains of a muted, melancholic trumpet, and, a personal favourite, ‘Moving Speeches’, a sprightly snare beat and banjo-accompanied skip through American folk backroads, Clarke sometimes sounding spookily like Denny. It comes as something of a shock, then, to slip into ‘Mainland’, a four minute experimental number that opens to the desolate sound of a sparse cello drone, siren call and breaking waves before the arrival of Clarke’s quivering, emotionally numbed vocals against an electronic backdrop as the number gradually swells over scuffed drums and treated guitars in a manner that suggests a darkside version of Clannad.

There’s similar experimentation at work on ‘Earth And Ash And Dust’, ushered in on a pulse of backwards treated guitar giving way to a scattering of sombre Spanish guitar notes as Clarke’s vocals eventually merge with the wordless backing to become the choir of some Renaissance cathedral frozen in time.

Things are more restrained for ‘Now You Know’, a slow, measured ballad with Walker’s simple repeated guitar pattern adorned by sweeping strings and French horn, with the album ending its journey in the early hours at some dimly-lit cellar bar blues club with a sleepy-eyed jazz trio and strings section for ‘Water To Wine’, Clarke evoking vintage Janis Ian with a resigned reflection on a self-denying uncertain future as she resolves to “do something good with my life” but must “accept that whatever I find it won’t be mine.” Whatever the future holds, it will be the more bearable for their music.

Mike Davies

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Artists’ website: www.josienneclarke.co.uk

‘Silverline’ – the official video:

WILL POUND ON BREAKFAST TV

Will Pound 2HARMONICA WIZARD & BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS“MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR” NOMINEE WILL POUND TO APPEAR ON BBC BREAKFAST TV

Recognised as one of the best harmonica players of his generation, 26-year-old Will Pound is due to appear on BBC Breakfast Television on the morning of the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards (Wednesday, February 19) where he is nominated for the coveted Musician of the Year title .

Will, who lives on a narrowboat in Oxfordshire will contest the title against Sam Sweeney, Martin Simpson and Aidan O’Rourke and the winner will be unveiled at the Awards ceremony to be held at the Royal Albert Hall.

But first he will be a sofa guest on BBC One’s Breakfast at Salford’s MediaCity, chatting to presenters Bill Turnbull and Naga Munchetty and playing live.

An outstanding natural talent, Will has quickly made his mark on the acoustic scene against the odds, despite suffering from dyslexia and not reading music. Born with a heart defect and having to undergo several operations as a child, Will was encouraged to take up the harmonica by his father as a way of helping with his breathing and overall health – and it certainly worked!

Last autumn he released A Cut Above, a barnstormer of a debut solo album which has received widespread acclaim from the UK to South Africa, America and Australia. An effervescent, life-affirming album it acrobatically hops across bluegrass, folk and jazz to blues, rock, pop and funk featuring both new arrangements of trad numbers and inventive original material. Be it a sultry take on Amazing Grace, the jaunty title track written by Will and wife Nicky or the barely-time-to-catch-your-breath bluegrass fave Clinch Mountain Back Step, it is a compelling and dazzling display of virtuosity.

Just before Christmas Will guested on BBC Radio 2’s Folk Show, presented by Mark Radcliffe. In late 2012 the harp ace joined forces with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Paloma Faith, Beverley Knight, Shane MacGowan, Glenn Tillbrook and Mel C on the Hillsborough charity single – the emotive cover of The Hollies classic He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – which became the Christmas No.1. Will also played a key role on the accompanying video, opening the song with a poignant harmonica solo.

Will has now formed his own Will Pound Band with renowned musicians Henry Webster (violin), the 2013 London Fiddle Convention Competition winner; guitarist Chris Sarjeant( Jackie Oates Band) and John Parker (double bass), one half of UK chart topping Nizlopi, who has also guested with Newton Faulkner, Ed Sheeran and Paper Aeroplanes.

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WILL POUND…..WILL MAKES THE CUT ….

Will Pound 1Recognised as one of the best harmonica players of his generation, 26-year-old Will Pound shows why he is undoubtedly “A Cut Above” with the release of a barnstormer of a debut solo album and new planned tour dates.

Together with banjo player Dan Walsh he made his name in the duo Walsh and Pound but now he steps out on his own in this eclectic 12-track album.

Nominated for the 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards “Musician of the Year” title Oxfordshire-based Will lives on a narrowboat – making the album title especially apt, with “cut” being slang for canal.

Playing both diatonic and chromatic harmonica he reaches the parts others harp players simply don’t. An outstanding natural talent, Will has quickly made his mark on the acoustic scene against the odds, despite suffering from dyslexia and not reading music. Born with a heart defect and having to undergo several operations as a child, Will was encouraged to take up the harmonica by his father as a way of helping with his breathing and overall health – and it certainly worked!

An effervescent, life-affirming album A Cut Above acrobatically hops across bluegrass, folk and jazz to blues, rock, pop and funk featuring both new arrangements of traditional numbers and inventive original material. Be it a sultry take on Amazing Grace, the jaunty title track written by Will and wife Nicky or the barely-time- to-catch-your-breath bluegrass fave Clinch Mountain Back Step, this is a compelling and dazzling display of virtuosity.

Will Pound 2

WHAT THE MEDIA ARE SAYING ABOUT A CUT ABOVE

“An absolute barnstormer of a debut album – punchy, wonderful energy and virtuoso playing”Tom Robinson, BBC 6 Music

“This album is a complete stunner – damn, damn good! A genius of the tin sandwich!” – Mike Harding

“This album is pretty spectacular – what an incredible gift – what a genius this man is!” – Bruce Macgregor, BBC Radio Scotland

The album is produced by Andy Seward and Andie Thomson and Will is aided and abetted by some of the finest musicians on the scene  –  guitar genius Martin Simpson, melodeon ace Andy Cutting, top Scottish folk musician Kris Drever, 2012 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year Tim Edey and Irish singer/multi-instrumentalist Damien O’Kane.

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Last year the harp ace joined forces with the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Robbie Williams, Paloma Faith, Beverley Knight, Shane MacGowan, Glenn Tillbrook and Mel C on the Hillsborough charity single – the emotive cover of The Hollies classic He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – which became the Christmas No.1. Will also played a key role on the accompanying video, opening the song with a poignant harmonica solo.

Will has now formed his own Will Pound Band with key musicians Henry Webster – (violin), the 2013 London Fiddle Convention Competition winner; guitarist Chris Sarjeant (Jackie Oates Band) and John Parker (double bass), one half of UK chart topping Nizlopi, who has also guested with Newton Faulkner, Ed Sheeran and Paper Aeroplanes.

A Cut Above is released on Pound’s Lulubug Records label and distributed by Proper Distribution. On December 4, Will, joined by bass player John Parker, will be live in session on BBC Radio 2’s Mark Radcliffe Show.

Artist’s website: www.willpound.com