Keening, yearning, captivating and lovely collection of songs, the sense of close performance all the more remarkable when you learn it was made during Covid lockdown in 2020. The ballads and poems set to music on this album might be hundreds of years old, and while they do have an air of immortal, ancient tradition about them, they sound utterly current.
Favorite track: Maid By The Shore.
As a follower of Rachel’s music I eagerly awaited this album, beautiful and now one of my favourites. We are so blessed to have such a strong innovative contemporary Scottish Folk Music scene. The accompanying musician’s and production are exemplary. Lauren’s fiddle, especially on ‘We will listen’ is very moving. Originally from London but lived in the North (Manchester, Yorkshire Dales) for 40 years. My Father’s side hail from Dumfries, hence a love of Scottish music and landscape.
Favorite track: We Will Listen.
To The Awe draws on the poem The Rock of Cader Idris by Felicia Hemans. The poems tells of the Welsh tradition that whoever survives a night spent at the rock will wake with new creative inspirations.
The ballads and poems on this album are hundreds of years old. They share a common theme in that they place women at the centre of their narrative, at various stages of life and often marking a coming of age and an acquisition of power.
This recording was made in the lockdown of May/June 2020. The vocals were recorded in my bedroom wardrobe. When I listen to this album, there are moments where I can clearly imagine all the musicians in a room together. This is thanks to their skilful intuition and trust. It was a challenge to make, but ultimately a welcome focus and a vital connection with others in such strange and uncertain times.
1. The Early Morning
Lyrics based on the ballad The False-Hearted Knight. A variation of Child ballad #4 Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight from Barry, Eckstrom and Smyth’s collection British Ballads from Maine, sung by Mrs. A. W. (Barry) Lindenberg, Shirley, Mass, 1922.
Lie there lie there my false young love, lie there instead of me
If six pretty fair maids you’ve drowned here, you can keep them company
2. We Will Listen
Lyrics are from the poem To Jean Ingelow by Susan Coolidge (1835-1905). The poem was featured as an introduction to Ingelow’s own Poems of the Old Days and the New, published 1885.
Sing on dear singer, sing again
And we will listen to the strain
3. Chaidil Mi A-Raoir air an Airigh
Lyrics and music based on a version collected by the School of Scottish Studies and sung by Captain Donald Joseph MacKinnon. Featured on the Tobar an Dualchais website with the following notes:
‘A waulking song about a girl who was sleeping out at the sheiling, missing her beloved and thinking that if he could come to her that high or low tides would not keep him. She sensed that someone was there and knew it wasn't her beloved. When he took the plaid from her she kicked him and sent him flying’
4. I Will Go
An improvisation by Rachel Newton and Lauren MacColl.
5. To the Awe
Lyrics (except ‘I will go to the awe’) are from the poem The Rock of Cader Idris by Felicia Hemans (1793-1835).
And, as from the grave, I woke to inherit
A flame all immortal, a voice, and a power
6. Maid by the Shore
Lyrics and music based on a version recorded by Peggy Seeger on her 1957 album Eleven American Ballads and Songs
Your men must crazy your men must be mad. Your men must be deep in despair
I’ve deluded them all as well as yourself and again I’m a maid on the shore
7. To My Daughter
Lyrics are from the poem To My Daughter on Being Separated from Her on Her Marriage by Anne Hunter (1742-1821)
Bright may the sacred torch remain,
And cheer thee till we meet again
8. Two Sisters
Lyrics and music based on The Old Woman Lived on a Sea Shore, as sung by Mrs. Pearl Brewer, Pochahantas, Arkansas on November 12, 1958 and Two Sisters as sung by Mrs. Lizzie Maguire, Fayettville, Arkansas on June 23, 1959. Both are featured in the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection.
Oh sister oh sister I’ll give you my hand
I’ll have your ring, your house, your land
9. Life and Light
An improvisation by Rachel Newton and Mikey Owers.
10. Would You be Young Again
Lyrics are from the poem Would You Be Young Again by Carolina Oliphant/Lady Nairne (1766- 1845).
Fly time, fly speedily,
Come life and light.
I relied on crowdfunding to make the recording a financial possibility. I am extremely grateful to those who supported my crowdfunding campaign, thank you! Thanks to Grant Anderson for supplying me with the equipment and advice that made remote recording from home possible. Thanks to Lauren MacColl, Mikey Owers and Sarah Hayes for rising to the challenge of recording their parts at home and adding their unique creativity to the album in such unusual circumstances. Huge thanks to Mattie Foulds, who went above and beyond to make this project work despite the restrictions we were under. Thanks also to Stuart Hamilton and Alison Smith.
Thanks to the brilliant Somhairle MacDonald. I’m glad of our early pre-lockdown photoshoot.
released November 6, 2020
Lauren MacColl - Violin/Viola
Mattie Foulds - Production/Mixing/Drums/Percussion/Programming/Keys
Mikey Owers - Trumpet/Trombone/Bass Trombone/Flugelhorn/Electric Guitar/Vocals
Rachel Newton - Production/Vocals/Electroharp/Keys
Sarah Hayes - Vocals
Mastered by Stuart Hamilton at Castlesound Studios
Photography and Design by Somhairle MacDonald
Love the complexity of this track and the rising and falling of the violins, and the texture. Makes me want to dance.
Thank you so much for this album. I really love it, and find it really inspiring my own work on the Witchcraft Trials ❤️ tararosehip
Listening to this album's rich, beautiful melodies and spirited performances feels like seeing a fantastical other-world emerge from the Earth itself. The emotions running through "A Mermaid at Fearn" are so complex and genuine it could convince anyone that mermaids are really out there. Gyakuten
Just the most fun. Every set is one I want to sit down and learn, and they play with so much ENERGY and STYLE. Crunchy, tangible sound. I'll never get tired of listening to Kinnaris Quintet play. andpersand