Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New and old songs - a mixed case of folk - Part 4

Two new releases; one by an artist already well known whom I saw live a few months ago at Frome Folk Festival and the other the début release by an artist of whom I only heard about for the first time a couple of days ago.
It is barely a year ago that Bella Hardy released her third album Songs Lost and Stolen and now she returns with another LP.

The Dark Peak and The White is a collection of songs, some traditional others her own original compositions. The arrangement is uniformly simple throughout, highlighting her singing and fiddle-playing on a record produced by the prolific and multi-talented Kris Drever who appeared as an artist on some of the tracks on Songs Lost and Stolen.  If you are new to Bella Hardy's music then this is no bad place to start, but be sure to also give the earlier albums a listen. In particularly the middle section, especially tracks 5 -10, on that album. No real wonder then that she won a 2011 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for 'Best Original Song' and if 'The Herring Girl' is timeless, and it is, so is 'Jenny Wren' and neither are set in the Peak District for they are both about itinerants looking for opportunities in places previously unknown to them.
The second involves a trip some eighty-miles north as the raven flies along the Pennines, the spine of England, for Pip Mountjoy hails from near Richmond in the Yorkshire Dales.
On this release she is to be found cutting loose from her locale; the EP is Louisiana. The songs are all her own compositions but the acoustic theme, on guitar in this case, is rather striking while the songs in several cases evince a wish to explore new places but they are tempered by her concerns about things that might accompany that endeavour.

I'm not going to say much about this other than to suggest you give it a listen, then buy it. One to watch, definitely, she has only fairly recently turned eighteen. If you are going to Deer Shed Festival 3 in July (20 - 22) then she is performing there.
That in fact also, if accidentally (largely because it reminded me to check the updated artist list for DSF 2012 and found it was rather desirable), solved a conundrum that has been bothering me for months: if I were to add a third (logically July) festival between No Direction Home and End of the Road, then what should it be?  I have toyed with various ideas for July 2012: Latitude, the re-born Truck Festival and Priddy Folk Festival but none have really made me want to commit so far. It is hard to say why... they just didn't quite do enough to make me do so.
In the end it is none of these that did.  I've just bought my ticket so instead I'll be heading north once again in July, to Baldersby Park near Thirsk in North Yorkshire, for Deer Shed Festival 3.  I was, I must say, very tempted last year but it was the same weekend as Truck Festival and also the one immediately after Latitude (to which I was already going), so the distances involved in such a short time put me off and I went to Truck 2012 instead. Those particular considerations just don't apply this year and, to be honest, I can't wait. I like small festivals with awesome acts.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

If you want to torture yourself, beautifully...

It's not that hard actually. Nor, I think, is it an especially dangerous ambition even if it is also a slightly wicked one. There is simply so much new music to be found and so much of it is legal, free and might possibly benefit the artists if some attention were paid to it. Buying it would of course be far better and, in many cases, it is very reasonable.
On the other hand you can never do it all yourself - there is quite simply far too much to listen to, let alone think and then write about. So we can all forget that right now. On the other hand writing something, about any of it, is all for the good. That is at least possibly achievable and if anyone is reading and likely some are, or better still commenting, then the oxygen of publicity will do no harm. I could believe that almost nobody does that but, on the other hand, I have many reasons to believe that this is not actually true.
If you want to torture yourself horribly then that is probably best done by denying what you actually like and, equally catastrophic, pretending to like what you really don't.  I'd say that it is certainly not the way to go. Not agreeing with others about more specific things, however, is a completely different matter and the boundaries may or may not always turn out to be quite as distinct as either party might have believed. Long may it remain so.

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Music 2012 - Part 17 - Joanne Shaw Taylor - Almost Always Never

It is almost unthinkable. 
Announced only today, tickets not yet on sale, is this tour around the UK from US-based, but originally from Wednesbury in the West Midlands, electric-blues phenomenon Joanne Shaw Taylor. What is more it is also in support of her third album 'Almost Always Never' released in the UK by Ruf Records on 17, September 2012 (almost certainly). This is the track listing:
• Soul Station
• Beautifully Broken
• You Should Stay, I Should Go
• Piece of the Sky
• Army of One
• Jealousy
• Almost Always Never
• Tied and Bound
• A Hand In Love
• Standing To Fall
• Maybe Tomorrow
• Lose Myself To Loving You
Note added May 22, 2012:
Tickets for the tour go on sale Friday May 25, 2012.  For an earlier comment on this topic see here.

Note added May 23, 2012:
Now think about this; how good this could be in a venue that has a capacity of 400 standing - about 60% of the capacity of the Cheese and Grain here in Frome?
That venue is Tavistock Wharf  and pre-sale tickets are available now.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

New Music 2012 - Part 16

This first is something that I mentioned as up-coming a while back. It is 'Europe', the second album by Anglo-Australians Allo Darlin'.

It is released on Slumberland Records on May 7, 2012 - LP, CD & d/l
I saw Allo Darlin' live at EOTR 2011 and it was a wonderful set; that they could hold a candle to any other act there was certainly no mean feat. This album is a demonstration of that; there is no question about it in my mind.
Here is an image from that performance in the 'Big Top' at End Of The Road Festival 2011.

The second act is one I have been meaning to seek out for some while but only a chance reminder, Amazing Radio playing one of their songs, prompted me to do so at last. That band is a five-piece from Leeds, Ellen and The Escapades, which has only recently released its début LP 'All The Crooked Scenes' on Branch Out Records.
It is an album of beautifully poised contemporary summer folk. The album is available on LP, CD and d/l and Ellen & The Escapades is high on my list of bands to see live this summer.