I’m no expert in this genre, but Mel Bigg’s debut album From Darkness Comes Light is rather lovely – and I suspect, since Mel is a Morris Dancer herself, the perfect soundtrack for a jig or two. One of the UK’s leading diatonic players, Mel says of the album:
“From Darkness Comes Light is a collection of twelve tracks that are very important to me. For many years I have been intrigued by the intrinsic connection between mood and music, and the attachments we have to people, place and nature. Each track is composed to represent a different time of the year. I hope my creation brings you an insight into your own emotions but most of all joy!”
Recorded and produced during lockdown September 2020 and March 2021, David Squirrel appears on mandolin and octave Mandela which was recorded in his living room by Peter Millson, who ran sound from Dave’s patio to uphold the social distancing regulations in place at the time. All tracks on the album are written and arranged by Mel (apart from the Trad track 4 Mounthills/ Coleford Jig). Other contributors are Kat Biggs on piano accordion, co-producer Jon Loomes on guitar and cittern and Bridget Slater on fiddle.
Mel has created three albums before with acclaimed trio Moirai (with Jo Freya and Sarah Matthews) but this, her first solo record, is packed with delightful original material, shining her light onto the murky shadows of mental health.
Being neuro-diverse and a visual artist, Mel adds depth and intrigue to her arrangements. The twelve tracks are influenced by seasonal light states, nature and ritual. The closing track ‘Katy’s Theme’ – described as a battle with self-identity – is Mel’s way of showing us that by finding the positives in what life throws at you, the conversation around mental health can be uplifting.
Rooted in English Morris and Northern European folk dance music, there are reflections of Philip Glass, Yann Tierson, Hans Zimmer and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra throughout which make it a rich, enjoyable soundtrack.
From Darkness Comes Light is out on Talking Cat Recordings on October 1. You can join Mel for a virtual launch concert October 16 via https://livetoyourlivingroom.com and she will be live with Kat Biggs at the Wren Music Festival, Okehampton October 22-24.
Jodie “Shebeat” Schofield
Artist’s website: https://www.melbiggsmusic.co.uk/shop
‘Winter Weather Warning’ – one of Mel’s teaching videos: