Irish Songstress Heidi Talbot Announces Angels Without Wings
Former Cherish The Ladies Vocalist’s New Release Features Collaborations with Mark Knopfler, Jerry Douglas, Tim O’Brien and More
Acclaimed Irish songstress Heidi Talbot presents Angels Without Wings, a new collection of stunning original compositions, many co-written with long time collaborator with Boo Hewerdine, featuring some of the most notable players and singers from the worlds of folk, pop, rock and bluegrass. The new album will be released by the Compass Records Group on January 29th.
When Mark Knopfler and Jerry Douglas offered to play on Heidi Talbot’s new album, they thoughtfully recorded their parts in several different styles – some were instantly recognizable, others more low-key. Talbot’s husband, producer and band-mate John McCusker joked, “you’ve got the best guitar players in the world and we’re blending them in?” But both musicians knew that for Talbot, the song always comes before the name.
Subtlety is Talbot’s magic ingredient – from her gossamer voice to the delicate re-working of traditional and contemporary material that earned her rave reviews for her 2008 breakthrough In Love And Light. The girl from Ireland’s Co. Kildare, who spent several years in New York as a member of the Irish-American super-group Cherish The Ladies, slips effortlessly between musical worlds but retains a personal penchant for traditional folk.
Talbot began writing songs on her 2010 album The Last Star. In just two years she’s become a master of the art, sometimes composing alone, sometimes with McCusker and Boo Hewerdine(who form her touring band). Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) became a new creative foil for Talbot recently. The pair became a song-writing team recently after discovering a mutual admiration for each other’s music: “He was asked to pick his fantasy band for The Independent and he picked me and Morten Harket from A-ha on joint lead vocals,” Talbot laughs. She conceived the melody for “Button Up” – a brooding, urgent acoustic love song – with Anderson in mind, and he sent back his own lyrics.
“At home we listen to Belle And Sebastian and Teenage Fan Club as much as we do The Fureys and Mary Black,” she says, of her song-writing’s broad appeal. The best modern folk music gets right to the heart of human drama while remaining oblique about time and place: “Wine & Roses” is a poignant contemporary reminiscence about young lovers “holding hands and rubbing noses”; “I’m Not Sorry” is a mini-psychodrama written from a single moment of reflection – “I felt it, so it can’t be wrong to sing about it.”
And while the timeless language of traditional folk will always be an inspiration, there are traces of Americana in “When The Roses Come Again” (featuring Mark Knopfler), a delicate country-tinged duet with bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien, and Parisian romance in the unforgettable title track by Boo Hewerdine, laced with vintage accordion.
Talbot and McCusker were keen to capture the spontaneity of performance: the album was recorded live in Glasgow’s new Gorbals Sound Studios with her regular team including Ian Carr (guitars), Phil Cunningham (accordian), Michael McGoldrick (flutes/whistles), James Mackintosh (percussion), Boo Hewerdine (acoustic guitar) and Ewan Vernal (bass). “If people made mistakes we’d just keep going,” says Heidi. “On some of the tracks you can even hear the harmonium creaking. These guys are friends, they all give their opinion. They’ll say, “That’s it! That’s the take!’”
Talbot’s close-knit creative environment has fostered her confidence as a songwriter while allowing her to welcome in surprising new collaborators. These ever-evolving musical relationships can be heard on this, her most sophisticated and vibrant recording to date.