Sweet Liberties – Nancy Kerr, Martyn Joseph, Maz O’Connor and Sam Carter
Maz O’Connor and Sam Carter’s solo albums are amongst my favourite releases of the year and I’ve blogged previously about their fine qualities. I will later in this blog do similarly for Nancy Kerr and the Sweet Visitor Band’s Instar album. However, one of the best various artist compilations or, dare I say it, concept albums, of this year for me is Sweet Liberties which features the aforementioned musicians alongside fellow singer songwriter and someone who often appears on Quiet Revolution playlists, the Welsh Springsteen, Martyn Joseph. They are supported by talented folk instrumentalists Patsy Reid and Nick Cooke.
The project is based around a number of constitutional anniversaries, including 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta and 750 years since the Simon de Montfort parliament. The musicians involved in the project were invited to compose new music in response to the rights and liberties that people have fought to achieve over this 800 year period. There is a rich diversity of songs including Martyn Joseph’s wonderful song Nye about the founder of the National Health Service and Maz O’Connor song Dark Days about the fight for women’s rights. Compelling compositions too from the pen of Nancy Kerr (Kingdom) and Sam Carter (I Am Not A Man).
The album is a project with the Folk By The Oak festival and in addition to the thought-provoking songs contained on the album the packaging and look of this release are incredibly impressive. High recommended.
Dan Whitehouse – That’s where I belong
Dan Whitehouse, the Wolverhampton-born and Birmingham-based singer songwriter is something of a friend of the Quiet Revolution. He’s played two live sessions for the show in 2015 and 2016 respectively and is a supremely talented musician who combines americana, folk and even country-soul influences, to my ears anyway. His last album Raw State was a real favourite and I was delighted to hear that earlier this year he’d signed to one of the best record labels around, Derbyshire-based Reveal Records.
Earlier in the year we had Dan’s first release for the new label, the Introducing EP, including some original songs and carefully chosen covers, including a brilliant take on Chris Wood’s Two Widows and the Cowboy Junkies Sun’s coming up (it’s Tuesday morning). This felt like a taster for the full length album which was released in September. It’s just a superb as I’d hoped and as a limited edition is available with an acoustic album thrown in with alternate versions and live songs both new and from Dan’s impressive back catalogue. Jess Morgan collaborates with Dan on one of the tracks, Close Up, from the songbook of label mate Boo Hewerdine. Talking of Boo, Dan has also released for sale at gigs an EP of Boo songs plus three further EP’s of his own songs and those by artists he admires.
Tracks I particularly like from the album? Too many to choose but current standouts are The places we have been, The little left unsaid and Close up.
Georgia Ruth – Fossil Scale
Georgia Ruth is a singer songwriter from Aberystwyth who first appeared on my musical radar with her album Week of Pines which on it’s release won the Welsh Music Prize in 2013.
Her latest album Fossil Scale was written in Caernarfon, a town in North Wales. The ancient surroundings of the town, its body of water together with the neighbouring Snowdonia mountains had a strong a bearing on Fossil Scale. Also influential were Georgia’s listening to the music of Beck, Radiohead and David Bowie albums during the period in which she wrote Fossil Scale.
During the year long period of recording, Georgia moved from Caernarfon to Cardiff, a move she sees as central to the album’s development, causing her to explore themes of detachment. The contrasting nature of city life prompted those songs written in the quiet of Caernarfon to change and become different again, reflecting Georgia’s own move. Fossil Scale is a marked progression in song-writing and style, driven heavily by keys, synths, guitars and layered recorders, alongside an Indian stringed instrument called the sarangi. This is one of the many elements of the album’s sound that really appeals to me, makes it different. This element came about following an introduction to Hindustani classical music during time spent on The British Council’s ‘Folk Nations’ project in Kolkata, where Georgia met James Yorkston collaborator Suhail Yusuf Khan. Coincidentally the Yorkston Thorne and Khan album is another standout album of the year for me (see earlier entry of this blog).
During the year long period of recording, Georgia herself also relocated from Caernarfon to Cardiff, a move she considers pivotal to the album’s development, enabling her to further explore themes of detachment as she moved and lived around the world’s quiet constants. The comparative clamour of city life prompted those songs written in the quiet of Caernarfon to shed skin and inhabit a different world, mirroring Georgia’s own move. Thus, Fossil Scale is a marked progression in song-writing and style, driven heavily by keys, synths, guitars and layered recorders, alongside an Indian stringed instrument called the sarangi. The latter came about following an introduction to Hindustani classical music during time spent on The British Council’s ‘Folk Nations’ project in Kolkata, where Georgia met James Yorkston collaborator Suhail Yusuf Khan