MARTYN JOSEPH – Here Come The Young (Pipe Records PRCD028)

Here Come The YoungMartyn Joseph released Here Come The Young on January 25th. I imagine most people reading Folking.com will know Martyn Joseph, but in case he’s new to you, Joseph is a multi-award winning singer and songwriter. His lyrics spring from an internationalist and humanitarian belief in people and their ability to make the world a better place; his music has that rare ability to draw you in on first hearing – and years later you’re still playing it because you’re not yet sated by the songs; his live performances are compelling.

That’s rather a lot for a new album to live up to – but it does. Here Come The Young was produced by Gerry Diver, who apparently took Joseph outside his comfort zone and the resulting album, while still being very recognisably the same artist, has an even greater energy and depth of sound than previous albums: Martyn Joseph plus, perhaps? Bob Harris has described Here Come The Young as “Strong, powerful and brave, it takes Martyn’s songs to a new, exciting and challenging place”.

The video below is to the title track and would give an excellent introduction both to Joseph the artist and to this particular album. The song, which looks outward onto our world, is a simple statement of challenge and hope that the young who are tired of so much of our unequal socio-enviro-political world “might just save the day”. The powerful graphics on the video enhance the track even further.

By contrast, ‘Oh My Soul’ turns inwards, asking at us to believe in our “heart’s poetry” and has an exhortation in the chorus as part of the quatrain “Oh my soul/Let me get out of your way/Oh my soul/Wake up and seize the day”.

We are a chorus of many” is central to ‘Love’s Majority’, a classic Martyn Joseph song with a quietly expressive vocal and the ability to merge poetry into song in a verse like “We’re not just straining for the echoes/Of all the vision we hold dear/We’re looking for the common threads of love/That bind us truly human here”.

I don’t know if it’s the best song, but among many powerful tracks on the album ‘Driving Her Back To London’ is the one that tears most at my heart (in a good way). It’s a song about inter-generational swapping of tunes on iPhones “She plays Kings Of Leon I play her rolling Stones……I play you Bruce you play me Muse” and builds to a wider reflection of uncritical love – it’s something I’ve done, and this track captures the moment perfectly.

‘Take Back The Sky’ is written in memory of a young Palestinian medic, shot in Gaza; ‘Summer Has A Way of Finding You’ has the simplest arrangement (vocal, piano and cello), a complement to the more up-tempo band sound of ‘Get Back To You’ and the almost bluesy ‘This Glass’ – the latter a song which asks us to take our half-filled glass and fill it up with things of beauty for the human spirit. ‘Nothing Is Lost in Love’ is not only a tribute to the power of love but I’d imagine will become as much of a song for an audience to quietly sing along with several thousand full marquees have done previously with ‘On My Way’.

I’ll finish with ‘Communion’ in the middle of the album, which has the distinctive musical depth I mentioned earlier. I know of no other artist who could both write lines like “When I make the bed, it’s like breaking bread/I stand in our room and I fall in communion with you” and make them sound as pure as poetry when they are sung. Similarly the chorus:

So when we’re all cried out from singing
We’re gonna rise up and sing it again
And when the light goes down we’re gonna stoke the fire
And bring it back to life, bring it back to life again”.

These are images which can be seen as purely descriptive, but which are surely metaphors for hope. And, as ever with Martyn Joseph, these aren’t treatises, these are songs – when you hear them, you want to sing along.

Here Come The Young is a great addition to Joseph’s already impressive series of albums. He is on tour in Germany from February 15th and then in the USA before returning to the UK from mid-May

Mike Wistow

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‘Here Come The Young’ – official video:

Shrewsbury Folk Festival – tickets are now on sale

Shrewsbury Folk Festival
Kate Rusby

Tickets have gone on sale for the 2019 Shrewsbury Folk Festival as organisers have shared the first names to be added to the bill.

Weekend tickets to the four-day event, that will take place at the West Mid Showground from August 23 to 26, are expected to be in high demand. Last year the first tier of tickets were snapped up in less than 30 minutes and weekend tickets sold out a month before the August Bank Holiday event.

Two of the UK’s top solo stars Kate Rusby and Martyn Joseph will be topping the bill along with the legendary Oysterband and female supergroup Daphne’s Flight, who are returning after a triumphant performance in 2017. Scottish folk rockers Skerryvore have also been invited back after wowing crowds earlier this year.

Grace Petrie – photograph by David Wilson Clarke

Gary Stewart’s Graceland – a reworking of the Paul Simon classic – has also been signed up along with solo shows from Show of Hands frontman Steve Knightley, singer songwriter and activist Grace Petrie and appearances from The Phil Beer Band and Merry Hell.

Exclusive to the festival will be a special day of programming on its Pengwern stage by duo Chris While and Julie Matthews to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their musical partnership. The While and Matthews Takeover will see the pair curate performances on August 25th that will culminate in a big band show to close the night.

Granny’s Attic

Other acts will include Chris Elliott and Caitlin Jones, Edgelarks, Geoff Lakeman, Granny’s Attic, Mankala, Paul Downes, Rapsquillion, Reg Meuross, Track Dogs, the Urban Folk Quartet, and Winter Wilson. Festivalgoers will also be able to watch folk opera Here At The Fair by Mick Ryan.

Festival Director Sandra Surtees said many more artists are yet to be revealed.

“As ever the Shrewsbury line-up will feature some of the biggest names in folk, some popular performers that have been requested by our audience and a number of world and Americana acts.

“But the festival is about so much more than just the music – there’s so much to do during the weekend for all ages. The festival has its own magical atmosphere and we have many visitors who wouldn’t class themselves as ‘folkies’ but they just come to enjoy the relaxed and friendly atmosphere with friends and family and listen to great music.

“The festival continues to go from strength to strength with a devoted audience who return year after year, demonstrated by the fact that we regularly sell out in advance.”

The festival has four main music stages, a dance tent featuring ceilidhs, workshops and dance shows, children and youth festivals, workshops, crafts, food village, real ale, cocktail and gin bars and on-site camping and glamping.

There are also fringe events at local pubs with dance displays held in the town centre and a parade through the streets on the Saturday afternoon. Weekend and day tickets can be booked at  www.shrewsburyfolkfestival.co.uk/booktickets/.

Martyn Joseph announces January release of new album

Martyn Joseph

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph returns with new album Here Come The Young released January 25th 2019 via Pipe Records. Produced by Gerry Diver (Tom Robinson, Lisa Knapp, Sam Lee), Martyn was encouraged outside his comfort zone and the result is a career defining record.

Martyn says of his new album, “The songs are exploring uncertainty to varying degrees through different subject matter both in the personal and political. I hope for those who listen it will be the sort of record that takes you on a journey and leaves you buoyed and hopeful at the end, despite the fact that we go to a few tough places.”

Born in Penarth near Cardiff, Martyn is gifted with the rare ability to speak to the soul with his expressive and poignant lyrics and has enjoyed a career spanning 35 years to date, over a half a million record sales and thousands of live performances. He has created his own style and reputation as a stellar songwriter, jaw-dropping guitar player and mesmerising performer, and social justice is an essential part of his music, which has been recognised with various humanitarian awards and plaudits. In 2014, he launched Let Yourself Trust, a not-for-profit organisation which aims to challenge injustice wherever it’s found, educating via advocacy, campaigning for human rights, and raising issues that have been forgotten or ignored, via fundraising initiatives. To date they have raised over a quarter of a million pounds. He’s also Patron of Advantage Africa and Festival Spirit in the UK and Project Somos in Canada/Guatemala.

On Here Come The Young, his songs are imbued with an optimism at a time when it is not easily found. Running throughout the album is a sense of hope and belief in the good of the majority, and that this will overcome the loud, cynical noise that pervades. For Joseph, songs are photographs of moments and visions be they good or bad, his lyrics encourage people to fight fear, cynicism and negativity and the rhetoric of those who hold power.

The title track ‘Here Come The Young’ suggests the young don’t have the same baggage of past generations and are more open and inclusive On ‘Loves Majority’, a protest song of sorts, the greater collective good will always outweigh the bad. There is a heart-breaking tribute to those who work for the betterment of others on ‘This Glass’. Self-doubt is the subject in ‘Oh My Soul’, encouraging belief in one’s journey. Six years ago, Martyn visited the West Bank in Palestine to play a festival and this became a catalyst to him forming a non-profit organisation to work with grassroots projects across the world. It was his experience in Gaza that lead him to write ‘Take Back The Sky’, where young kids fly kites as a symbol of freedom “the wrist that holds the string of dreams for one brief moment takes back the sky”.

Martyn has previously toured with the likes of Art Garfunkel, Jools Holland, Ani DiFranco, Suzanne Vega, Mike and The Mechanics, Joan Armatrading, Celine Dion and Shirley Bassey.  In 2016, in addition to playing over 170 shows worldwide, he was asked by the EFDSS and British Parliament to write and perform as part of Sweet Liberties with Nancy Kerr, Sam Carter and Maz O’Connor to mark 800 years of British democracy. One of his songs from this, “Nye” celebrating Nye Bevan, the author of the NHS, has been enthusiastically received by audiences everywhere, as well as having BBC national airplay on Mark Radcliffe’s Folk Show and Tom Robinson’s 6 Music show.

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‘Nye’ from Sweet Liberties – official video:

Martyn Joseph honoured on both sides of the Atlantic

Martyn Joseph

Not just ‘one of acoustic music’s most original voices’, but also one of its most active humanitarians, acclaimed Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Joseph has received a top honour at the International Folk Music Awards in the USA.

Martyn was presented with a Spirit of Folk Award at the Folk Alliance International convention at the Folly Theatre in Kansas. These coveted awards are presented ‘to honour and celebrate people actively involved in the promotion and preservation of folk music through their creative work, their community building, and their demonstrated leadership’.

Known for his astute and powerful songs of compassion and one of the finest live acts on the circuit, Martyn has become a celebrated artist on both sides of the Atlantic over his 33-year career and aptly been dubbed “The Welsh Springsteen”.

Five years ago Martyn met his wife Justine Ferland at Folk Alliance and together they developed the UK charity Let Yourself Trust which has been actively involved in combatting social injustice, supporting myriad grassroots projects all over the world from helping rebuild a demolished family home in Palestine to leading a 25-strong team in the creation of a music centre in a Guatemalan children’s village and getting involved in Advantage Africa’s Albinism project in Uganda.

Accepting his award from Folk Alliance International’s Barbara Manners, Martyn said he was humbled: “These are strange days and we need good songs to remind us of who we really are. The real danger is cynicism and fear. We are a big army and we should be making a hell of a noise right now and I’m proud to be part of that rumble”.

Let Yourself Trust, whose patron is broadcaster Bob Harris OBE, has raised some £250,000 since its inception with recent projects including helping to clean a mercury poisoned river on a Canadian reserve, aiding the homeless at a Swansea refuge, supporting a teenage mental health project in Boston, USA and backing a mobile school initiative which provides education for street children in 25 countries. http://letyourself.net/

Meanwhile back in the UK Martyn was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by FATEA Magazine in their annual folk awards. FATEA’s Neil King said:

“Martyn Joseph has done more than create great music for a long period; it’s about the way he uses music and the recognition built up to put back into the wider community, focusing his attention towards trade justice, third world debt cancellation and human rights.”

Just after receiving the award Martyn played the famous Half Moon, Putney and was joined on stage by friend and Welsh actor/comedian Rob Brydon to sing Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Thunder Road’.

Two years ago, Joseph was also nominated at the AIM Independent Music Awards in London – in the closely contested category of Hardest Working Band or Artist whilst he has also been recognised with an Amnesty International Award for his support of Brazil’s MST Landless Workers’ Movement.

A previous winner of the Best Male Artist title in the BBC Welsh Music Awards, Joseph’s story (over three decades of performance, five Top 50 hits, half a million album sales and 32 album releases) continues to grow and connect with audiences everywhere.

An exceptional singer songwriter and guitarist, Joseph, who was invited by the English Folk Dance & Song Society’s (EFDSS) to write and take part in the Parliament-instigated democracy-celebrating project Sweet Liberties, has recently started recording his 33rd album which will be produced by in demand Gerry Diver and released next autumn.

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SWEET LIBERTIES – Sweet Liberties (Quercus QRCD002)

Sweet LibertiesSweet Liberties, originally a commission by the EFDSS and Folk at the Oak, in partnership with the House of Commons, to mark the 2015: Anniversaries: Parliament in the Making, this has now expanded to become a 14-track album featuring a varied line up of folk musicians in celebration of 800 years in the pursuit of democracy.

Some of the names will be familiar, others less so, but all contribute thoughtful and relevant songs touching on various aspects of the overall topic. I am assuming that everyone listed in the credits (which includes Nancy Kerr and Patsy Reid on violin, Nick Cooke on melodeon) played on all (or most) of the songs, the writers themselves handling the vocals, perhaps the best known being Martyn Joseph who contributes three of his own numbers, the first, featuring fingerpicked guitar and violin, a revisiting of ‘Dic Penderyn’ from his Evolved album, the story of the 1831 Merthyr Riots and the man hung for a crime he could not have committed. The second, a duet with Sam Carter, is also one from the back catalogue, ‘Twelve Years Old’, from Songs For The Coming Home, inspired by the 1833 Factory Act and framed as a conversation between two children a hundred years apart. His third, ‘Nye’, is a new song written for the project, a fingerpicked, violin-accompanied tribute to those who work in the NHS and to its founder, fellow Welshman, Aneurin Bevan.

The album opens with ‘Kingdom’, the first of four songs by 2015’s BBC Folk Singer of the Year, Nancy Kerr, a traditional styled solo acoustic number that takes Magna Carta as a springboard to address the ownership and management of land for profit and the subsequent loss of habitat. Coloured by violin, ‘Seven Notes’ is another traditional framed track, one which uses the image of the migrating cuckoo as a poetic metaphor for colonialist history, setting it in an experiment in musical patterns to represent multicultural Britain.

Rather more jaunty, the waltzing, melodeon-led Music Hall-like ‘Lila’ (the only song not to also feature on her new Instar album) connects the suffragette movement with the abolition of slavery through its twin subjects, Adelaide-born Muriel Lila Matters, who took to a hot air balloon to scatter Votes for Women leaflets over Parliament, and Mary Prince, an eighteenth century Bermudian whose autobiography offered a narrative of slavery. Her fourth contribution, the spare, melodeon, violin and guitar accompanied ‘Written On My Skin’, again draws on metaphor and nature imagery (here a hunted fox) on a song in memory of women forced to resort to the Human Rights Act to have their sexual assault cases justly tried.

A relatively new voice on the British contemporary folk scene, Maz O’Connor also has four credits, all new recordings, kicking off with the violin-backed ‘Rich Man’s Hill’ which, inspired by the 1601 Poor Law and concerning the widening gap between the haves and have nots,, tells of a homeless man in London who believes that, if he works hard enough, he too can get himself a mansion. The one track to address democracy directly, ‘This Old House’ (a nod the Palace of Westminster) is a playful take on democracy and compromise framed in the context of a couple redecorating and patching up their shared house, pizzicato violin driving along the chorus.

Featuring nimble fingerpicked guitar and violin, ‘Broad Waters’, as the title suggests, concerns the 1985 killing of PC Keith Blakelock on the Broadwater Farm estate and the subsequent police fitting up of three innocent men for his murder, and is set as a dialogue between a police officer pressuring a young boy into testifying against Winston Silcott. Her last track, backed by just acoustic guitar, the plaintive ‘Broken Things’, also concerns social justice, here, borrowing the opening of Wilfred Owen’s Anthem For Doomed Youth, a lament for the decline of the trade union movement, focusing on the Miners’ Strikes of 1984 and, in particular, the death of David Jones during violence on a picket line.

Which leaves Sam Carter who, like Joseph, provides three numbers. Echoing Kerr, ‘Am I Not A Man?’ also addresses slavery a waltzing number inspired by freed slaves organisation Sons of Africa whose campaigning contributed to the Abolition of Slavery Act, drawing for its details on the slave autobiography Interesting Narrative Of The Life Of Olaudah Equiano.

His two other songs come at the back end of the album, the first being the lurching cabaret-styled ‘Dark Days’, a straightforward state of the nation comment with gyspy violin accompaniment, proceedings closing with the folksy salvationist hymn ‘One More River’, a return to the theme of slavery that sounds a personal note in that his great great aunt married the son of a fugitive Virginian slave, sun in his voice as he contemplates fleeing to England, ending in an unaccompanied chorus by Carter and, presumably, his three female associates.

Featuring none of the bombast or flagwaving that would likely characterise an American equivalent, this is both a damn fine album and a salient reminder of the liberties we so often fail to hold dear.

Mike Davies

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‘John Ball’ live at the launch event:

Martyn Joseph nominated as hardest working artist

Martyn Joseph 2016

Welsh singer songwriter Martyn Joseph, “one of acoustic music’s most original voices”, had the honour of being nominated at the AIM Independent Music Awards at The Brewery in London this week – in the closely contested category of Hardest Working Band or Artist.

Known for his astute songs of compassion, and as one of the finest live acts on the circuit, Martyn was the sole representative of the folk roots scene at the Awards ceremony, facing strong competition from artists from the R ‘n’ B, rap and indie worlds. The award was clinched by singer songwriter Darren Hayman but Martyn was proud to be a flag bearer for the tradition.

“It was an honour to be the voice of folk within the wide cacophony of so many other musical genres and among some incredible artists. It was a fantastic night for independent music.”

Adele, Stormzy, Roisin Murphy and Slade were among the night’s winners.

It’s not hard to see why Martyn earned the nomination, having played over 140 shows and Festivals across the UK, Canada, USA & Europe in the last year including his own event PipeFest. He’s released two albums (Sanctuary and Sanctuary Acoustic) and taken part in the English Folk Dance & Song Society (EFDSS) Sweet Liberties project, as well as developing his own UK based charity, Let Yourself Trust, which has been supporting grassroots projects in Palestine, Guatemala, Uganda, Canada & the UK.

Long known for his humanitarian work, in the past 12 months he has travelled to Palestine with volunteers to help rebuild a demolished family home and to Guatemala, leading a 25-strong team in the building of a music centre for a Children’s Village. Last year also saw him playing a show in Swansea homeless shelter Zac’s Place with Bob Harris OBE (patron of Let Yourself Trust) to celebrate raising £16,000 for their work in the first half of 2015. At the start of 2016 he presented a Let Yourself Trust cheque for £18,000 to the charity Advantage Africa and last September he ran his first 10k race to raise further funds.

A previous winner of the Best Male Artist title in the BBC Welsh Music Awards, Joseph’s story (three decades of performance, half a million album sales and 32 album releases) continues to grow and connect on both sides of the Atlantic.

He will shortly embark on a tour of USA and Canada before returning for a UK tour in November/December.

If you would like to order a copy of the album (in CD or Vinyl), download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the Martyn Joseph link to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website. 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.

Artist’s website: www.martynjoseph.net

‘I Searched For You’ – official video: