Saturday, February 23, 2008

Looking forward ... Why does it feel so good?

What is there to look forward to?

Today was a little luxury and I have just spent a couple of hours listening to things that I should have paid more attention to before. I pretended that spring was now here and thus listened to the 2007 'Ys Street Band EP'. You may by now be aware of my various foibles when it comes to music and this conforms to several of them: female vocals, nu-folk and indie to mention just three.

Ys (the album) consists of just five tracks and is not far short of an hour long – but for those who like this kind of music both album and EP come highly recommended.That, in 2007, Bloc Party released ‘Girls Who Play Guitars’ says a great deal about this phenomenon but in this case it does not apply on all levels. Joanna Newsome ticks all the above-mentioned boxes but, elfin though she is, an instrument as small as a guitar simply does not become her. As well as writing songs and singing them she plays harp – the full-size acoustic double-stringed kind – and in popular music that is less common than hen’s teeth! That in itself is odd enough but she is also an accomplished songwriter of what I am currently calling nu-folk; others may know it as freak folk or indeed by another label instead. (I'm not really bothered about what it is called but I'm wondering if there any consensus on this? +++ please let me know+++ If there is then I'll be happy to try and conform to it!)
This EP and its predecessors, The Milk-eyed Mender (2004) and Ys (2006), are in a similar vein and thus not necessarily easy listening for the unwary.

Joanna Newsome Ys (2006). [Click to enlarge.]

It is not before time that Bristol stamped its mark on music again. That ten or fifteen years ago it was famous world-wide, but certainly not for this kind of music, simply isn't relevant any longer; in Beth Rowley it has a new sound. Portishead are threatening a new album but, as good as it may be, Rowley has the ambition to rewrite the the rules on her own terms...

The album Little Dreamer is due to be released on 26th May 2008.

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