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.

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