Hello and welcome to my Sunday Recommendation. Thanks for joining me. Every week I read great wildlife and nature books, stumble upon engrossing websites and hear wonderful new music. This is my chance to bring you carefully curated recommendations of 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.
For Henry – Astrid Williamson
Astrid Williamson is one of my favourite musicians. When I say favourite, it means both that I have every recording she’s released and that I’ve played her music more than almost anyone else. That’s quite a claim, so I have to qualify it and say that I don’t have a CDR promotional copy of one of her more obscure singles which had an extra-track which was only available on iTunes. You get the picture.
I also support Astrid to produce more music on Patreon. It’s only a small contribution, but for that you get a live online concert every month, all of which have been warm, entertaining, joyous and emotional events, with other similarly-minded souls.
When I play her albums, Boy For You (1998) and Astrid (2003, the eponymous album which came after Boy For You) I’m instantly transported back in time. I’m in the car, driving from Devon to Orkney and my three kids are in the back singing along, even learning to harmonise, to Everyone’s Waiting and Sing For Me. Then I hear Blood Horizon and I want to cry and can’t wait to be in Orkney again.
For Henry is her brand new single, released on 4 December 2020 and is an instrumental of great emotional power:
Music has the capacity to speak in a profound way, beyond words, beyond the other senses and get to the core of your very soul. For Henry does that to me. This week, every day, as I meander in the clutter of my house move, I’ve taken time to sit amongst the packing boxes and arrange the television and its speakers and immerse myself in For Henry. And then, I play it again. It still has gifts to reveal. Astrid’s singing voice is so sublime, so full of Shetland huskiness, that’s it’s always a pleasure to hear. This glorious instrumental doesn’t need it.
For Henry, is an instrumental piece I wrote for my nephew, Henry. Having written and recorded the piano part at my mum’s house on her 1903 Broadwood piano, the instrument I learned on, I enlisted long time collaborator Ruth Gottlieb (Tindersticks, Ryan Adams) to perform the violins, which we recorded in Brighton.
The hypnotic imagery is by artist Tula Parker who provides a beautiful setting with her painting. The video is a triumph. I’m looking forward to Astrid’s new album and playing it in the car on long journeys of joy and expectation.
The place I most like to buy music is Bandcamp. It has that personal touch, with shops run by artists and goods fulfilled by them, with the sense that the musician is actually benefitting financially rather than receiving praise or exposure. Exposure never paid the rent. Here’s the link to buy For Henry:
Oh, and if anyone has a CDR of Astrid’s Store with the extra track Time After Time, then I’m buying.
That’s it for this week. I’ll be back with more recommendations of things you might adore next Sunday. In the meantime, I wish you a great week. Keep safe, everyone.