Published on March 5th, 2018 | by Mike Ainscoe0
Round up time again!
There’s been a lot of press recently that’s taken a more in depth look at the role of women in various aspects of the music industry from performers to managers and beyond. Both PROG magazine and Classic Rock have run lengthy features and I even had the pleasure of reading an interesting article putting to task those who refer to bands who have female singers as ‘female fronted’ – thereby inventing a whole new genre – by Sam Lambeth on the Louder Than War website.
Misguided as it may seem, and stirred into action, here’s our little round up of what’s new from a batch that filters out some recent releases by what Martin from Froday Night Dinner would call ‘females’.
Not included but watch out too for the upcoming new album from Joan Baez, one of the originals and a bona fide legend in the field.
WAY OUT I’LL WANDER
The second album from Brooklyn based Scottish singer/songwriter and multi instrumentalist. Some might feel short changed at just under half an hour but think about the old days of vinyl and quality over quantity. Her lack of roots and nomadic existence pour into a series of songs that conjure up windswept landscapes and vacant cities in the small hours. Gentle acoustic arrangements are embellished with waves of strings and atmospheric moods in a hold your breath listening journey.
Blood & Desire
The collaboration from the duo of Emily Alice Ovenden and Anna Tam who’ve played a role, alongside a cast of thousands, in Mediaeval Babes. Not surprisingly following that lead and summoning up a world of Elizabethan broadside ballads and songs from illuminated manuscripts and courtly songbooks, we get the chance to take a little trip back in time. From religious imagery to renaissance tales of piracy, jilted lovers and general acts of folly, it’s a history lesson in music. It’s no surprise that you can catch them live later this May at the Arthurian Faery Ball in Tintagel. With just the one reference to the inevitable Greensleeves, it might push the patience of some of us heathens yet may well delight fans of the style.
YARROW ACOUSTIC SESSIONS
Isle Music Scotland
Scots singer of the year 2016-7, Loris Watson gives birth to Yarrow Acoustic Sessions as the culmination of an evolving digital album. Including Steven Byrnes and Duncan Lyall, well known to Kate Rusby watchers, she weaves a series of musical vignettes whose sources weigh heavily in favour of the usual traditionals and poems. Spoken word combines with stark and bare arrangements in an organic fashion typified by the hypnotic harmonium led ‘Yarrow (A Charm)’ that opens the album, although the slowly brooding ‘What A Voice’ shifts gear into an unexpected jazzy swing.
Interest piqued by the fact that this shares a title with an early Porcupine tree album, Metanoia being the Greek noun meaning ‘a new way of seeing’, this album combines unreleased songs and several re-invented older tracks. Perhaps the boldest of our selection, it finds Yvonne blending Americana, ambient and folk, striking early with ‘Where The Poor Find Gold’ whose acoustic string band arrangement wouldn’t be out of place in Robert Plant’s current repertoire. It’s a set whose lyrical direction points at hope and consolation in the face of adversity while musically, a shift from the electronic contribution to ‘Hope’ that turns vaguely industrial in ‘Farewell’ to optimistic poppy brightness on ‘Everything’s Fine’ and a delicate poignancy on the closing ‘Gigha’. Her eighth solo release, no wonder she’s confident enough to throw in a few challenges.
BETH NIELSEN CHAPMAN
HEARTS OF GLASS
Re-recorded classics, new solo compositions and a collaboration with Graham Gouldman. Good to hear something a little more uptempo and upbeat as ‘Come To Mine’ kicks off the set although there’s a contrasting thoughtful faraway quality to ‘Epitaph For Love’. She also includes a slowly relaxed version of the timeless classic ‘If My World Didn’t Have You’ that first appeared on Willie Nelson’s ‘Horse Called Music’ album that fits perfectly on a record held together with an easy country lilt.