BELLA HARDY – Postcards & Pocketbooks (Noe NOE12CD)

Postcards & PocketbooksI still tend to think of Bella Hardy as one of the bright young things of folk music but she has already done more than enough to justify Postcards & Pocketbooks, a double-CD retrospective, all the tracks remastered by Ian Carter. Bella is an old-style fiddle-singer, a 21st century songwriter and just about everything between. She can bring power to traditional songs and weave old themes into new songs and you can never be sure where her muse will lead her next.

The first disc opens with ‘Learning To Let Go’ from her poppy album, Hey Sammy, built on the pounding drums of John Blease. It sounds like the song of someone still seeking a way forward and if it’s autobiographical then that might explain Bella’s frequent changes of approach. That’s followed by the almost traditional ‘Whisky You’re The Devil’ and her award-winning ‘The Herring Girl’. This could be a traditional song or, at least, a traditional story but there is not hiding its provenance. You might expect ‘Sylvie Sovay’ to be traditional but here again Bella just takes the names and the germ of the theme and works them into something very new.

‘Maying Song’ and ‘The Seventh Girl’ are largely old songs and the first half ends with the first of two unreleased tracks, the gorgeously pure ‘Sheep Crook & Black Dog’.

The second disc opens with a new version of ‘Three Black Feathers’, the song that first made her name. Here it’s pared back to a simple guitar accompaniment by Sam Carter and the experience of nine years is obvious in Bella’s voice. Sam is there again on a new version of ‘Time Wanders On’ and the second previously unreleased song, ‘Tequila Moon’. Other standout tracks in the half are ‘True Hearted Girl’ – a robust version of ‘When I Was On Horseback’ – ‘Walk It With You’ with vocals by Kris Drever and the marvellous ‘Jolly Good Luck To The Girl That Loves A Soldier’.

The set ends almost where it began with ‘Redemption’ from Hey Sammy followed by the closing ‘Tequila Moon’ based on a chunky guitar part. I’ve heard most of Bella’s albums but Postcards & Pocketbooks succeeds in giving a different overview of her career – a mix-tape that entertains and makes you think a little more deeply about what you’re hearing.

Dai Jeffries

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Artist’s website: https://www.bellahardy.com/

‘The Herring Girl’ – live:

Bella Hardy announces retrospective collection and tour dates

Bella Hardy
Photograph by Kate Chappell

BBC Folk Singer of the Year Bella Hardy found her first home in folk music through a childhood love for ballad books. A self-taught ‘fiddle singer’, she began performing at Cambridge and Sidmouth festivals from the age of 13. Her debut album Night Visiting established her reputation as a talented songwriter when her first original composition ‘Three Black Feathers’ earned a BBC Folk Award nomination. Since then, Bella has sung unaccompanied ballads at a sold-out Royal Albert Hall, taken a band of drums, brass and electronics to the National Concert Hall of Budapest, and learnt the songs of Chinese farmers during her time as British Council Musician in Residence in Yunnan Province. She’s sat on the moors of her beloved Peak District with only her fiddle for company. She spent a year in Tennessee as a ranch hand, looking after horses, fiddle-singing in the diners, and immersing herself in the music culture of Nashville. With her mesmerising voice and ability to conjure and twist stories that call straight to the heart, Bella has beguiled audiences from Canada to Japan, from Spanish bars, to Castles, to Concert Halls.

With unflinching courage, Bella Hardy has explored and blurred musical boundaries in her search for meaning. From her mastery of tradition music and the stripped back strings and concertina of her debut album Night Visiting (2007), to the electric guitar and drums in the self-penned humanist hymns and feminist battle cries of Hey Sammy (2017), via the Derbyshire ballads of The Dark Peak & The White and ancient Chinese poetry of Eternal Spring, an album of songs and poetry recorded in China. Her themes of displacement and home, lost and found love, heartache and joy, are delivered with her unique, disarming honesty, and, of course, the acclaimed crystalline voice that won her BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Singer of the Year.

And she shared the whole extraordinary journey with you in her first nine records, in the space of just ten years.

Postcards & Pocketbooks is a double CD of her most highly treasured works, with remastered recordings of classic material and two new tracks, ‘Tequila Moon’ and ‘Sheep Crook & Black Dog’. Bella will also be publishing a lyric book bringing together her original writing and reworkings of traditional material. There will be over one hundred songs in the collection.

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Artist’s website: www.bellahardy.com

‘The Herring Girl’ – live:

NOVEMBER TOUR DATES

Saturday 9th – Sage Gateshead

Sunday 10th – Greystones Sheffield

Monday 11th – The Junction, Cambridge

Tuesday 12th – The Guildhall, Leicester

Thursday 14th – Kings Place, London

Friday 15th – The Folk House, Bristol

Saturday 16th – mac, Birmingham

BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2012 Winners Announced

Lifetime Achievement Awards for Don McLean and The Dubliners

Four Awards for June Tabor & Oysterband

Good Tradition Awards for Ian Campbell and Bill Leader

Broadcast from The Lowry in Salford for the first time

The influential careers of singer-songwriter Don McLean and Irish folk legends The Dubliners were celebrated last night(Wednesday 8th February) at the 13th BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.  Presented by Radio 2 Folk Show host Mike Harding and singer Julie Fowlis, this was the first year the awards were held outside London. The event was broadcast live on BBC Radio 2, online and on BBC Red Button from the Lowry in Salford.

Bob Shennan, Controller, Radio 2 and 6 Music said:

“Folk music is enjoying a fantastic resurgence in popularity in the UK with a vibrant and varied scene. Tonight’s event proves once again how important it is for Radio 2 to schedule our annual Folk Awards as well as our weekly folk show, and I’d like to congratulate all of the winners.”

Broadcaster Paul Gambaccini presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Don McLean who commented:

“I thank the BBC for thinking of me and honouring me with this award. The UK audience has been among the most loyal for over 40 years and without them certainly I wouldn’t be considered for this honour, so I thank the BBC and I thank the British public”.

The Dubliners, who celebrate their 50th year of being together this year, had their achievements recognised when they received their Lifetime Achievement accolade from singer-songwriter Ralph McTell.

The night in part belonged to June Tabor and Oysterband who picked up four awards for each of the categories they were nominated in. Folk singer June was reunited with roots rebels Oysterband after 21 years and their much acclaimed reunion led them to receiving the prestigious Best Album Award for Ragged Kingdom, Best Traditional Track for Bonny Bunch of Roses and Best Group, while June was crowned Folk Singer of the Year.

The evening was also a successful one for Tim Edey who picked up two awards – Musician of the Year and with Brendan Power the gong for Best Duo.

For the first time the Best Original Song prize was given to two winners, with Bella Hardy’s The Herring Girl and Steve Tilston’s The Reckoning sharing the honours. 21 year-old Lucy Ward was a Young Folk Award Finalist in 2009 and now found herself picking up the Horizon Award, which recognises the achievements of newcomers, for her blend of modern and traditional folk.

The Home Service, whose Live 1986 album was released in 2011 following the discovery of a 25-year old tape, were named as Best Live Act. Special recognition went to Ian Campbell and Bill Leader who were honoured with the Good Tradition Award which pays tribute to those who keep traditional folk music alive. Malcolm Taylor OBE, Director of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at the English Folk Dance and Song Society was recognised for his 30 years of service as the recipient of the Roots Award.

Ioscaid (pronounced iss-kidge), a six piece band from Northern Ireland picked up the accolade for Young Folk Award. The group, who are aged between 18 and 20, are made up of Dermot and Fintan Mulholland from Derry, Declan Magee and Niall McCrickard from Down, Niall Murphy from Armagh and Ciaran Hanna from Tyrone.

Celebrities who were on presenting duty on the night included singer-songwriter Ralph McTell, Billy Elliot playwright Lee Hall, Coronation Street’s Kate Ford (Tracy Barlow), comedians Ed Byrne and Jeremy Hardy and BBC broadcasters Stuart Maconie and Paul Gambaccini. Highlights of the Radio 2 Folk Awards will be available on the BBC Red Button for seven days after the award ceremony.

BBC RADIO 2 FOLK AWARDS 2012 – WINNERS

FOLK SINGER OF THE YEAR

June Tabor

 

BEST DUO

Tim Edey & Brendan Power

 

BEST GROUP

June Tabor & Oysterband

 

BEST ALBUM

Ragged Kingdom – June Tabor & Oysterband

 

BEST ORIGINAL SONG (JOINT WINNERS)

The Herring Girl – Bella Hardy

The Reckoning – Steve Tilston

 

BEST TRADITIONAL TRACK

Bonny Bunch of Roses – June Tabor & Oysterband

 

HORIZON AWARD

Lucy Ward

 

MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR

Tim Edey

 

BEST LIVE ACT

The Home Service

 

BBC RADIO 2 YOUNG FOLK AWARD

Ioscaid

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

The Dubliners

 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Don McLean

 

GOOD TRADITION AWARD

Ian Campbell

 

GOOD TRADITION AWARD

Bill Leader

 

ROOTS AWARD

Malcolm Taylor

 
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