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Maz O’Connor new album 'The Longing Kind' out 26 February 2016

Album release: 'The Longing Kind' by Maz O’Connor
Release date: 26 February 2016
Label: Artist's own
More info: Artist website

Maz O’Connor is a singer and songwriter whose new album 'The Longing Kind' explores the tensions and conflicts of a young woman living in London, yearning for an undefined elsewhere. Her songs turn intimate and true tales into poignant examinations of our relationship to others, to home and the notion of identity.

Having studied at the same Cambridge College as author Nick Hornby and Alexis Taylor from the band Hot Chip, one wonders if a combination of her working class background (she grew up in Barrow-in-Furness, the blue-collar capital of England) and a literary education is what gives her music its distinctive character. In her final year at uni (where she had tutorials in Coleridge’s former bedroom) she studied the early writing of Bob Dylan, and that insight left its mark on the way she structures songs. Similarly schooled in the work of Jackson C. Frank and Paul Simon, she is enamoured by the simple power of “one person standing on stage with a guitar and making a whole world.” 

The Longing Kind is her first album of entirely original material, having temporarily put aside the traditional ballads that featured on her acclaimed previous album 'This Willowed Ligh't.  These songs are unflinchingly personal and resolutely youthful.

“I’m not going to pretend not to be young,” Maz explains. “For this album I didn’t want to hide behind historical disasters and mythological beasts at the expense of my own experience.” 
Ordered like a three-act play, the album begins with songs that capture those moments of uncertainty, confusion and displacement that follow being shoved into the world from the comfort of education and family. As well as “trying to use love as a shortcut to home, a shortcut to identity which obviously doesn't work.”

The songs in the second act are imagined stories based on the subjects of particular paintings (Millais’ Ophelia, Delaroche's Lady Jane Grey and other immortalised tragic heroines) and how their identities have been fixed by their artists. “I liked the idea of the painting having a voice to say, ‘I could‘ve been so many other things but you had control over me as the artist.’  That’s also true of the songs I write about people in my own life. If I write about someone I’ve controlled the narrative; I’ve fixed them in a song.”

In the final section the record returns to reality, but in responding to the themes of the previous songs there’s a newfound clarity, a redefined sense of self and of arriving home. “I've been trying to figure out the difference between mistakes and regrets; to enjoy being young without being stupid.”

'The Longing Kind' is absolutely a solo album, with Maz accompanying herself on guitar, tenor guitar, electric bouzouki, piano and harmonium. Produced by Jim Moray, the record is released on her own label Restless Head and paid for by a grant from the BBC Performing Arts Fund. 

In 2015 Maz was nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award and in the same year she researched and wrote songs for Sweet Liberties, a touring project commissioned by the Houses of Parliament (in partnership with EFDSS and Folk by the Oak) to celebrate key moments of democracy in the 800 years since the signing of the Magna Carta. Prior to that she performed extensively in support of her previous album, including an appearance at WOMAD festival that was broadcast on BBC Radio 3. In 2013 she took part in a new production of As You Like It by the RSC, singing songs written for the play by Laura Marling.
Maz O’Connor is a precise and considered lyricist and a composer of heart-tugging melodies that conjure some of the 1960s’ most revered American balladeers, whilst being undoubtedly English, youthful and now.

Press reaction to date

“O’Connor effortlessly demonstrates an astonishing ability to fuse traditional and contemporary folk to create a very fresh sound which respects both styles of music.”  - Folk Radio UK

 “Maz O’Connor’s ace is her captivating voice, along with her remarkable songwriting talent” 
 **** - Q Magazine

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'Strange Readings From The Weather Station' - new album from James McArthur

James McArthur

Album release: "Strange Readings From The Weather Station" by James McArthur And The Head Gardeners
Release date: 1 June 2015
Label: Moorland Records
More information / listen on: James McArthur website

We are proud to introduce 'Strange Readings From The Weather Station’ the long awaited new album from Welsh born folk singer/songwriter James McArthur. 

Following the release of the EP ‘Lawn Order’, 'Strange Readings From The Weather Station' delivers a startlingly accomplished brace of songs in a unique style of hazy folk; with plucked guitar lines and breathy, playful vocals that are reinforced with yearning violin parts and haunting pedal steel guitar.  The sound echoes the likes Nick Drake and Iron and Wine from a perspective that's all his own; grounded and fleeting and always profound.  

The tracks invite you on a journey, through rolling harmonies, shifting guitar, with songs as changeable as the British weather.

The album was recorded at Tin Room Studios in Hackney, London and Wickham Farm, Welling (once the home and studio of singer Kate Bush) with Head Gardeners Johnny O and Jim Willis, and featuring guest musicians Samantha Whates and Syd Arthurs’ Joel Magill and Raven Bush.  

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New single coming from SUKH: 'For The Road'

Sukh - album cover

Single release: "For The Road" by SUKH
Release date: 27 April 2015
More information / listen on: on SUKH website
Second album ‘Heading East’ to follow in winter 2015

Doctor by day, musician by night, the young Mancunian songwriter Sukh returns with brand new track ‘For the Road’ - the first offering from a wealth of new material which sees his most accomplished songwriting yet.  

Acclaimed for his chamber folk tinged numbers (particularly breakthrough single ‘Kings’) Sukhdeep Krishan employs an orchestral element that sounds big enough to uplift and reverb around a space 300 feet high, balanced by gentle comfortable strumming and lupine vocals. Now even more advanced in production, 'For The Road' is textural, crisp and bold - born for the airwaves.   

Despite his accessible, even commercial sound, Sukh’s personal listening is underground, exploratory and thoughtful, including the likes of Luke Howard, Joe Hisaishi, Kings Go Forth, Milo Greene, The Slow Show and Tom Waits to name a few. He lets some elements of these tastes inform his songwriting but largely finds influence elsewhere, be it on the open mic circuit, temporary residencies in other cities, or, and perhaps most consciously, literature and psychology - Russian authors Tolstoy and Turgenev through to the more theatrical and poetic Henrik Ibsen, and emotional psychologists Haidt and Lyubomirsky.

‘For The Road’ is taken from forthcoming album 'Heading East' - an album about true love. Not your standard ‘I like you / I like you too’ yarn, or any type of dramatised romance. No it’s about a calmer, peaceful love. It’s about vines growing together, nourishment and sustenance - an autobiography of reality coupled with the everyday ups and downs of fiery passion. “I suppose the whole album is about two people’s lives that are inextricably intertwined,” says Sukh, “It’s a very personal album and is a lot more exposed than Kings.”

Sukh will launch his single live on Tuesday April 21st @ Ronnie Scotts, London.

Press reaction to date

‘Sukh recalls the more pastoral, up beat moments of Sufjan Stevens with a country tinge that is informed by Neil Young (think 'Harvest') and even less hip names such as Cat Stevens. It seems that the Manchester artist is confident enough to write songs - great big, hulking things which groan under the weight of the emotion contained therein.’ -  Clash

"It’s very, very hard to impress with acoustic based folk tinged pop songs. So when a track stands out amongst minimal techno productions and growling guitar licks, we know it’s something special. This offering is written, performed and produced by the artist alone and employs country, folk and americana elements with melodies that have a habit of embedding themselves on the inside of your brain." - Tom Robinson (6Music) blog

 "Sukh is a doctor. This clearly isn’t enough of a challenge for him, though, so in is spare time he makes short films. Oh, and on top of that, he writes, performs and produces dreamy, jangly folk pop like ‘Kings’. Naturally, there’s an adorable video to accompany it too. It’d be easy to dislike him if it wasn't all so good." - For Folks Sake

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Andy Shauf: "The Bearer of Bad News"

Andy Shauf art work

Album release: "The Bearer of Bad News" by Andy Shauf
Release date: 4 May 2015
Label: Tender Loving Empire
Listen / more information on: Andy Shauf website

There’s an innate stillness and depth to Shauf and his music – a quiet, riveting strength that subtly steals its way into a listener’s bones. He’s a storyteller: a singer of heartbreak and regrets, isolation and loneliness, small-town heroes and smaller-town killers.  

Throughout "The Bearer of Bad News", Shauf studies the universal through two to five-minute microcosms, spinning tales as few others can where accidental, redemptive victories (the jaunty charmer “Hometown Hero”) stir alongside evocative, heartrending tales of self-doubt and lost loves (“I’m Not Falling Asleep,” the achingly beautiful “Covered In Dust,” “You’re Out Wasting”). There’s not one, but three cinematic murder ballads that slowly unfold like the greatest of tragedies: “Wendell Walker,” an epic account of adultery and betrayal, as well as “Jerry Was A Clerk” and “My Dear Helen,” sister songs that skillfully tell two sides of one unintended death. Shauf’s tender, singular tenor guides the way over muted instrumentation of softly-strummed guitars, dampened drums, weathered piano, and clarinet, which lends its unique timbre to frequently brighten – or hauntingly underscore – the songs’ darker undercurrents.

Meticulously written over four years, and recorded throughout one in a makeshift studio set up in his parent’s basement, Shauf plays nearly every instrument on "The Bearer of Bad News". The album was crafted on his grandfather’s timeworn guitar and heavily influenced by the aforementioned – and newly learned – clarinet, which was a Christmas gift from family. In spite of his modest recording setup, Shauf has imbued the album with an enduring warmth and redolence that lingers long after the album ends, a skill which earned him praise across Canada and a growing audience abroad.
 

Tour dates (UK)

  • London, UK • 13.05.15 • Slaughtered Lamb
  • Brighton, UK • 15.05.15 • The Great Escape Festival
  • Gardenstown, UK • 05.09.15 • End Of The Road Festival

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Inti Rowland's debut LP ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ out on 13 April 2015

Inti Rowland

Album release: '17 Century Japanese Aviary' by Inti Rowland
Release date: 13 April 2015
Pre-orders: via Bandcamp
Listen on: Inti Rowland website

‘Inti’s voice has a kind of choir-boy purity to it, yet isn’t lacking in emotional texture, his guitar-playing is bright and subtle, and his song writing is sophisticated, particularly in terms of structure’ – The Blue Walrus

‘When FFS first heard Inti’s delicate voice, we knew instantly he had captured something unusual and very compelling. His lofty voice floats above gentle melodies … it really is splendid stuff.’ – For Folk’s Sake

Recorded in six days in a converted chapel in the Scottish highlands, '17th Century Japanese Aviary' is the first full length release from London-based singer-songwriter Inti Rowland. Rowland’s fingerpicked guitar sits in the fore but the album soars way beyond the foundations of traditional singer songwriters with brass, a string quartet and light percussion adding to the mix.

Born in Chile in the early 90’s to a travelling art student mother and a garlic selling, alcoholic father, Inti Rowland’s upbringing was certainly interesting. Having lived in a garden shed in his childhood, Rowland was keen to escape from the spider refuge and let free his musical musings. London shows and independently released EP’s in the following years were no doubt paramount in shaping Rowland as an artist and debut album ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ has a lot to owe to his early endeavours.

The album was recorded in a secluded and peaceful setting just thirty miles from the heritage-rich Perth, Scotland. The bare surroundings and expansive country side are enough to inspire the least creative of minds and thus Rowland, of course, was able to flourish in the environment. The album was recorded in the summer and Rowland poetically recreates the motivating effect the surroundings had on the recording sessions: ‘The Scottish summer had a hint of warmth and the days were long and bright. Light would stream into our recording studio through the long church windows and daylight would persist until gone eleven at night, helping with the long hours.

Rowland’s thought provoking and inspiring attitude to his writing allows the listener to engage with the music more so than usual. The emerging artist encourages interpretation and notes the universal nature of the human existence. ‘the way I like to approach song writing is to acknowledge that most human experiences and emotions are universal… songs are loose things, and while for the artist they might come from a place of hurt or wonderment, primarily a song is one persons take on an experience and if done well, then they can mean anything to anyone.’

Track 4, the record’s title track, is certainly a highlight of the album. The exposed and bare exhibition of Rowland’s soft vocals and nylon string guitar needs no instrumental backing. The notes from the opening jazz-inspired chords resonate and high notes stand out for effect offering a melodic quality to the introduction. The track has gifted its subject matter from a book. It is based around the idea of an ancient Japanese courting tradition where when a man loves a women he would give her an aviary full of tropical birds as gesture of his affection. When something amazing happens in their lives, they'd then open the gates to the aviary and watch all the birds fly away. Rowland notes in his lyrics the beautiful trust and hope laced within this gift of love.

A diverse album, ‘17th Century Japanese Aviary’ is at times reminiscent of a 70’s  Nick Drake record. A string quartet adds to this and the addition of brass hints at a John Martyn hayday. The church setting gives Rowland’s soft vocals reverberation that gives way to a Benjamin Francis Leftwich-style track. In fact, the intimate yet full bodied experimentation is on par with other modern folk greats such as Laura Marling, Ben Howard, Grizzly Bear or The Low Anthem. For a debut album there really is not much else you can ask of this emerging singer and songwriting talent.

Inti will be announcing a number of tour dates soon including a special album launch showcase in London. For the mean time, experience his live opulence by watching his St Mary’s & St Pancras Old Church sessions at www.youtube.com/intirowland

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