With her tenth solo record Love Songs, Bella Hardy has returned to the traditional ballads she’s known all her life. Since 2017’s self-written Hey Sammy, Bella has released a best-of collection Postcards & Pocketbooks, an accompanying hardback book The Complete Lyrics of Bella Hardy and become the parent of two dogs and an extremely recent baby. This latest album – recorded in just three days – features seven folk songs alongside four of her own compositions. With lockdown’s unavoidable two-year time out from touring came a necessary return to self-accompanied singing for Bella and with it a rediscovery of some of the first songs she learned.
“This album is comprised of the songs that are most intrinsically ingrained in me”, Bella explains. “That’s why it could be recorded in three days, because those songs were already there.”
Love Songs begins with the Nick Cave & Warren Ellis-esque piano and fiddle of the original instrumental Summer Daylight Winter Darkness. It’s followed by the traditional Hares On The Mountain, first collected by Cecil Sharp in 1903. Sprig Of Thyme is also indelibly connected to Sharp, being a version of the first folk song he ever collected, but this record isn’t the result of research in archives. These are ballads, such as the yearning Loving Hannah that have lived in Hardy’s head for as long as she can remember, sometimes so long she can’t recall where they came from (some undoubtedly shared by fellow singers in late-night sessions, others absorbed from tapes on family car journeys).
“This is the music people first heard me make on my 2007 debut album, Night Visiting. Because when you make your first record, it’s the music that’s been inside you for the longest. It’s almost as if these are the songs that were left off that first record. Some of these songs I feel I’ve been singing forever.”
With guitar by producer Mike Vass and piano and clarinet from Tom Gibbs, this exquisitely understated album places Bella Hardy’s soaring, storytelling voice in the room with you. Old and new stories of shoemakers sent to sea; sweethearts waved off to war; penniless lovers scorned by parents; spouses digging deep railway tunnels… all told with precision, sensitivity, wisdom and the deft musicianship for which she’s renowned, now honed by 15-years of experience at the forefront of English folk music.
Artist’s website: http://www.bellahardy.com/
Bella will be playing at the following festivals summer 2022:
2nd July – Cleckheaton Folk Festival
23rd July – Folk Fell, Holker Hall
3rd September – Indoor Festival of Folk, Cecil Sharp House, London
In the absence of new videos from Love Songs here’s an old favourite – ‘The Herring Girl’ live;