Hello and welcome to my Sunday Review. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, see engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music – this is my chance to bring you all the best I’ve experienced – every Sunday.
If it’s folk, or independent, or about wildlife, nature or Orkney I may love it, and so may you.
Ballads Vol. 1 – Iona Fyfe
If you’re a follower of this blog then you must love long narratives of death and despair, right? If so, then Ballads Vol. 1 by Iona Fyfe will be perfect for you. Six songs, sung unaccompanied, in glorious Scots by one of the finest singers I’ve heard.
Iona’s a much celebrated singer and winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2018. In June 2020 she released Volume 1 in what I hope will be a long-running series. Take a listen:
The six songs come with a comprehensive booklet of sources and analysis which gives insight into the origins of the original tales and the journey they have gone through in the hands and voices of many singers. People have been singing tales of domestic violence, young lovers eloping and families being burned to death for centuries and the vast majority of our current population have lost touch with these stories and this style of singing. These ballads are who we are and we ignore them at our peril.
Iona’s Bandcamp is where you can buy her music: ionafyfe.bandcamp Utterly fabulous. Do catch Iona performing live on the Internet if you can; witty, informal and full of emotion, her performances live long in the memory, and, with her help, so will these jewel-like relics of our culture.
Solan Goose – Erland Cooper
I first heard an Erland Cooper song ten years ago while I was driving. I knew it was just my kind of thing as soon as I heard it. Over a four hour journey I tried to remember his name and the song and failed. Several days later I remembered how great it was and tried to find it on the track listing of the show of the night I was travelling. I failed. Imagine my delight when I found it; Erland and the Carnival and Trouble In Mind. I still love it. After several creative and inventive albums with progressive folk rock settings he’s reinvented his public persona as a purveyor of contemplative soundscapes.
Erland is an Orcadian who works with art installations and soundtracks, uses field recordings and classical instrument players. I asked my fried Martin how he thought that someone young from Orkney could go to London and suddenly be recording in Damon Albarn’s studio, forming a band with multi-instrumentalist Simon Tong (formerly of The Verve, Blur and The Good, the Bad & the Queen), and drummer/engineer David Nock (The Orb, The Cult, The Fireman, David Gilmour, Paul McCartney) and having Paul Weller record backing vocals and guitar. His answer? “He’s just really talented”
Solan Goose is an ode to escapism, written to ease personal anxiety working in a busy city, through soothing piano, strings, electronics and wild bird calls. The titles of the tracks on Solan Goose are Orkney dialect names for birds. Solan Goose is Orkney for Gannet.
It’s immersive, charming, quirky, inventive and beautifully done. You can buy it or stream it from any of these links.
Or you can buy it from Amazon, destroy the planet, increase the wealth of the world’s richest man, and give me a percentage:
Do luxuriate in the sound of Erland Cooper. “He’s just really talented.”
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with more reviews of things you might adore next Sunday.
In the meantime, I wish you a great week. Keep safe, everyone.