Hannah James announces her new album and tour dates

Hannah James

Described as ‘a true original’ by the Guardian, spellbindingly innovative musician and dancer Hannah James and her most recent project The JigDoll Ensemble, announce the release of their impressive new album The Woman And Her Words on October 4th.

Recorded in Hungary, at the prestigious music venue/studio Budapest Music Centre, the album hosts an international line-up of musicians – András Dés (Hungary – Percussion); Marti Tärn (Estonia – Bass Guitar); Kate Young (Scotland – Fiddle / Vocals) and Toby Kuhn (France – Cello).

“I deliberately put together this band of extraordinary musicians because, at this time, I feel it’s so important to keep international friendships strong. I have always felt European, not English, and this band is a celebration of that and an example of the great things that can emerge when people from different countries and backgrounds have the freedom to meet and work together”. Hannah James.

One of the key figures in the revival of English percussive dance, Hannah is renowned as one of the best accordionists of the British Folk scene, her musicianship extends far beyond the tradition and flawlessly incorporates beautiful vocal-stylings with both classic and contemporary applications of English clog dance.

The new release is a celebration of ageing, gaining wisdom, and of the many women who have delivered essential truths along the way. Artist and puppeteer Katarina Cakova, based on Hannah’s stories, created the physical form of ‘the woman’, which appears on the album cover.

The Woman And Her Words tackles important issues and subjects in our current climate, with a strong theme of community evident throughout the album. The title track addresses gender roles and the consequences of toxic masculinity, whilst ‘Canal Song’ focuses on the necessity for green spaces in our inner cities.

‘Dayspring’ sings of an unstoppable awakening, dedicated to the student anti gun movement in America and, more recently, to the amazing wave of new young activists walking out of school to demand better environmental policies. The album also challenges the balancing act of maintaining connections in our social media focused world. Album closer, ‘Shields Time’, encompasses all the elements of the live show, dance, body percussion, voice and a playful rhythmic communication between as the musicians in the band.

A previous collaborative project, Songs Of Separation, won the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Best Album in 2017; while Hannah’s vocal trio Lady Maisery produced three critically acclaimed albums and was nominated for the Horizon Award at the BBC Folk Awards. Her most recent project began solo before becoming the JigDoll Ensemble, was acclaimed as “the highlight of the festival” at the Folk Expo Manchester in late 2017, debuting to a standing ovation from professional delegates from across the world.

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Artist’s website: https://jigdoll.co.uk

Two years old but still worth watching. Hannah James – Jigdoll – live:

TOUR DATES

FRIDAY 4th OCTOBER – The Cube Malvern

www.malverncube.com/ticketed-events

SATURDAY 5th OCTOBER – Kings Place, London

www.kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/folk/the-jigdoll-ensemble

SUNDAY 6th OCTOBER – The Y Theatre, Leicester

www.leicesterymca.co.uk/show/?showid=3eccb920-d170-e911-80e8-00505601004c

MONDAY 7th OCTOBER – The Library Theatre, Sheffield

www.wegottickets.com/event/479134

TUESDAY 8th OCTOBER – The Stoller Hall, Manchester

https://stollerhall.com/whats-on/hannah-james-and-the-jigdoll-ensemble/

FRIDAY 11th OCTOBER – Turner Sims, Southampton

www.turnersims.co.uk/events/jigdoll-ensemble/

SATURDAY 12th OCTOBER – Quay Arts, Isle Of Wight

www.quayarts.org/event/the-jig-doll-ensemble/

THURSDAY 17th OCTOBER – Furness Tradition, Ulverston

 

 

KATE & RAPHAËL – Les Objets Trouvés (own label DECYOU01)

Les Objets Trouvés From the first unsettling notes, it’s clear that Les Objets Trouvés isn’t going to sit down quietly and play nice. Opening with the sort of filmic crescendo that normally accompanies the reveal of the serial killer, ‘Caterpillar’ then swoops coolly along with Kate Young’s aerobatic vocalising over Raphaël Decoster’s sashaying accordion.

The pairing of Decoster and Young is an intriguing meeting of innovative artistic minds as visual as they are musical. Consequently, each track is highly evocative, offering sidelong glimpses into other possible worlds as the listener drifts by. Delicate layers of sounds are built up to create subtleties of texture and shade that absolutely reward repeated attention.

Take the final track, ‘Semaphore Sauvage’, for instance. This eerie auditory folk horror short sits slightly apart from the rest of the album, separated by an extra-long silence from the preceding tracks. Its exaggerated sustained notes, uneasy chant-like vocalisation and what might be a crackling fire lend it a wild, haunting air that lingers long after the album’s finished.

‘Grey Blanket’ is another track making full use of natural sounds to form a sonic landscape. Its birdsong, rustling leaves and a distant storm are set against the bouncing spiccato of the violin bow onto the strings before the accordion rolls gently in.

‘Mushrooms On The Moon’ and ‘Swimmings Of The Head’ (also the title of Young’s stunning Kate In The Kettle project first album) are both deliciously rhythmic and swirling pieces, although each has its own distinct tempo and mood. On both, Decoster’s accordion breathes audibly – disconcertingly like an extra person in the room. It’s a feature of his playing on many of these songs that is at once deeply intimate and also slightly unnerving.

Elsewhere, ‘Tanz Tanz Tanz’ begins with a Kraftwerk-y vocal loop, over which a fluid violin and perky staccato accordion bursts weave their delirious, well, dance. Sólheimajökull is an Icelandic glacier waltz, culiminating in a shuddering whirl, with the added brass section lending an air of the big top – it’s Fellini’s La Strada on ice. ‘Million Dollars’ surface choppiness is finely counterpointed by a languid lingering over the accompanying notes.

About a minute into ‘Woolyboy & The Crying Mountain’, there seems to be some rhythmic nod to the Kate In The Kettle track ‘Green And Gold’. There’s also some unmistakeably French style accordion in there right before a vocal marker indicates a change of pace, to a lively tune culminating in a flurry of ricochet strings. The point is, there’s so much going on here, so many constantly shifting tiny details making up the whole, that – like Alice falling down the rabbit hole – it’s quite hard to do more than snatch at passing details in order to try to describe this remarkable album.

‘Jardin De Pamplemousse’ is an engagingly traditional style tune, but all the tracks on this album are original compositions, apart from the duo’s take on ‘Cutty Wren’. Yet, somehow, the pair play as though these tunes, these interactions between their instruments and Young’s voice have always existed, so totally natural do they seem. It’s an album that manages to be both utterly extraordinary and deeply familiar at the same time. Here is a collaboration that has paid off most handsomely, with these two highly original artists breathing life into a unique and beautiful set of songs.

Su O’Brien

Artists’ website: https://www.facebook.com/kateandraphael/

‘Tanz Tanz Tanz’ – official video:

Kate & Raphaël – debut album

Kate & Raphael

Kate Young and Raphaël Decoster together form an exciting blend of original and folk-influenced music. The French accordion dialogs with the Scottish fiddle and Kate’s voice with an intimate spontaneity, which invites us to discover their hidden stories and landscapes.

They create melodies and songs through their interest for visual arts as well as traditional music, and this combination is the base of their fresh and poetical music.

Kate is also known for her work with Songs Of Separation (winners of ‘Album of The Year’ at the 2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards), as well as Eliza Carthy MBE in – Carthy, Oates, Farrell & Young, and her own band, Kate in the Kettle.

Raphaël is from Lille in the North of France and plays with French Bal-folk band, Zlabya and duo Peut-être Jeanne.

The duo will release their first album, les objets trouvés in June accompanying a UK tour.

Artist’s website: www.kateyoungmusic.com

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Songs of Separation (Navigator NAVIGATOR094P)

Songs of SeparationAn ambitious project, this is the brainchild of double-bassist Jenny Hill who, in the period running up to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014, found herself frequently on the road away from her Scottish home. As such, and being English, she was struck by the different messages being directed at and from the two nations and decided to address the notion of separation through a musical project. Recruiting Eliza Carthy, Hannah James, Hannah Read, Hazel Askew, Jenn Butterworth, Karine Polwart, Kate Young, Mary Macmaster and Rowan Rheingans, a posse of female folkies from both Scotland and England, they holed up on Isle of Eigg last June to write, rehearse and record (in just six days) what would eventually become this album, its theme of separation embracing the personal, political, social and cultural as well as touching on matters of family, gender, communication, supernatural, home, work, identity and the land.

Polwart taking the lead vocal, it opens with a reading of the traditional number, ‘Echo Mocks The Corncrake’, an appropriate choice given that Eigg is one of this migratory bird’s remaining habitats, its distinctive call introducing the track and echoed in the percussive beats, the lyrics about the separation of two lovers serving as a metaphor for the rural depopulation of the Highlands during the 18th and 19th centuries. It’s a robust treatment involving harp, scraping strings bass, double bass and a rousing wordless vocal refrain.

The album continues in traditional mode with Read’s bluegrass-tinged arrangement of Burns’ ‘It Was A’ For Our Rightfu’ King’, a gently yearning melody picked out her acoustic guitar and completed by harp and banjo, followed by the equality and love themed ‘The Poor Man’s Lamentation’ with its urgent rhythm, swirling violins and a capella ending. Further birdsong and the sound of a storm heralds the wholly massed a capella lament ‘Sad The Climbing’ (or, since it’s sung in Gaelic, ‘Trom An Direadh’), recorded live, like the album’s other a capella number, ‘Unst Boat Song’, in Eigg’s acoustically striking Cathedral Cave, itself not far from the site of a 1577 massacre of the MacDonald population by the MacLeods of Harris upon which the lyrics treat.

Driven by choppy percussive arrangement and gathering to a chanted climax, things remain in Scottish Gaelic for the near six-minute ‘Muladach Mi ‘s Mi Air M’aineoil’ (‘Sad Am I And In A Strange Place’), a call-and-response waulking song about a woman and her two daughters being separated from their people and their home.

In contrast to the bulk of the album, ‘Cleaning The Stones’ is an original number (a fish’s love song) penned by Eliza Carthy. Opening with a chamber folk arrangement, it waltzes dreamily on wings of plucked strings and harp arpeggios like something from the music halls. A little more birdsong, and it’s a journey way back in time and to the far reaches of the Shetlands for ‘Unst Boat Song’, a prayer for the safe return of fisherman sung on the original Norn with Polwart taking lead.

Sung by Hazel Askew with the others providing harmonies, the lullabying music hall tune of ‘London Lights’ may be more familiar as ‘Just Before The Battle Mother’, an American Civil War song written by George Root, the lyrics here about the destitution fate of abandoned single mothers. Heading into the final stretch, the harp shimmering ballad ‘Sea King’ is a handclap backed intricate setting by Kate Young of a poem by 19th century Danish poet Adam Oehlenschläger, a variation on the selkie myth about a woman who, years after being transformed into a mermaid, returns to shore, human again, only to find she has now has no home on either land and the sea.

Lady Maisery’s Rowan Rheingans steps up for another original, the strings-swathed ‘Soil And Soul’, a song inspired by both the hills known as The Old Woman of the Moors on the Isle of Lewis and the translation of the Gaelic for Eigg, The Island of the Big Women (a reference to the 7th century female Pict warriors sent to rid the island of Christianity-peddling monks), while the title (and the theme) stems from a book by Scottish environmental campaigner Alastair McIntosh.

Concerned with separation and loss as a result of conflict, personal or otherwise, ‘Over The Border’ weaves together a number of traditional tunes and a collective original, among them ‘The Flowers of Knaresborough Forest’, ‘Blue Bonnets Over the Border’ and pipe lament ‘The Floo’ers of The Forest’, plucked harp and Indian harmonium drone giving way to shared vocals by Polwart and Carthy before the ensemble joins in and violins, guitars and percussion lift the tempo for a rousing dance reel and the optimistic refrain of ‘the gates and the borders will all fade away’.

Finally, Robert Frost’s classic poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ provides the inspiration for’ Rheingans’ ‘Road Less Travelled’, her vocals joined by Polwart and Young (who also lent a lyric hand) on an suitably banjo-dappled accompaniment behind which, recorded in the open air, birds trill and the wind blows as they exhort “lay your cares and troubles down” and “sing your own way home”.

There’s no better way to end this than by quoting Hill’s words in the booklet:

Songs of Separation is an ‘SoS’, reminding us that this connection between people, and between people and place, is the key to overcoming the challenges we face, both in our communities and in this fragile world of which we are temporary custodians.” Come together, right now.

Mike Davies

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Website: http://www.songsofseparation.co.uk/

Cathedral Cove:

Songs Of Separation – single and new album

Songs Of Separation - single, album and tour dates

Songs Of Separation is a highly significant collaborative recording project which reflects, through song, the issue of “separation” in its many forms. Featuring ten of England and Scotland’s most celebrated female contemporary folk artists, together they explore the similarities and differences in our musical, linguistic and cultural heritage. The ten participants are Eliza Carthy, Karine Polwart, Rowan Rheingans, Mary Macmaster, Hannah Read, Kate Young, Jenn Butterworth, Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Jenny Hill (who conceived the project).

Ahead of the release of the Songs Of Separation album and tour, Navigator Records are pleased to announce the release of a double A-side single release from the forthcoming album; ‘Echo Mocks the Corncrake’, featuring. Karine Polwart, and ‘A’ For Our Rightfu’ King’, featuring Hannah Read.

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Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

‘Echo Mocks The Corncrake’ – a sort of video:

The Songs Of Separation ensemble will embark on a short tour early in 2016, culminating at Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow on 24th January. Songs Of Separation aims to capture a sense of our times, exploring topical social and political issues through powerful music.

Artists’ website: www.songsofseparation.co.uk

Songs-of-Separation-group-s

KATE IN THE KETTLE – Swimmings Of The Head (own label)

KateInTheKettleThere is a PR guy with whom I have a very good relationship – he sends me records and I write nice things about them. I might have expected him to be handling this one but without wishing to be unkind I have to tell him that he’s really missed out.

The Kate in this particular kettle is Kate Young, the fourth name in Carthy, Hardy, Farrell and Young; formerly of the remarkable world fusion band Ethno In Transit and now also a Moulette. She’s a fiddle-singer and takes that definition to its ultimate expression, using her voice as an instrument as well as a device for conveying a lyric. She’s joined in this band firstly by Marit Fålt who shares the arranging duties and adds another link in the chain of Scottish-Scandinavian musical co-operation. Marit, as you know, plays låt-mandola and with Daniel Moser on bass clarinet and Marti Tårn on bass guitar the instrumentation does have a certain Nordic gloom. The fifth member of the quintet is Victor Solana on tabla, cajon and percussion and you can’t help but think that if Peter Knight could reach those high notes, Gigspanner might sound a bit like this.

Kate brings her Ethno experience to bear quickly with the opening track, ‘Fairy Fiddler/Såb Jon’s Polska’. The lyrics of Nora Hopper’s poem, from which the song is derived, give way to wordless vocalisations that are almost surreal against Solana’s percussion and she really does hit some high notes. The long set, ‘Mammoth/Kissed Her Under The Coverlet/Holi/Tandoori Truchter’, begins in an orthodox folk style but as you can guess from the final title, one of Kate’s own tunes, it goes its own way.

‘Paper Rose’ features Erik Saties’ ‘Trois Gnossiennes No .1’, another haunting and mysterious musical strand fused into Kate’s music, and the record ends with the two singles, ‘Push And Spark’ and ‘Grow Down’, the latter featuring pizzicato violin that evokes the sound of the mbira as does ‘Salmon’. The album title comes from Nicholas Culpeper’s famous herbal. Azalea is recommended to relieve such a condition but I wouldn’t advise you to try it.

Dai Jeffries

Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront 


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Artist’s website: www.kateyoungmusic.com

Official video: ‘Green And Gold’ from Swimmings Of The Head