My full time job is a set and costume designer and maker for theatre and installations. So I spend hours in my spare room which is a sewing room full of materials and tools and a big table with a view into my back garden where I can see my hens scrubbing around. Beyond that I can see a hill with a line of trees which my eye often goes to when I’m daydreaming of being outside and not making a giant pair of trousers for a bronze animal statue or something similar.
So I listen to a lot of radio, audiobooks, podcasts and music. I thought I’d put together a list of what’s currently playing, hopefully you will find some something new to discover:
You can play this list on Spotify - https://open.spotify.com/playlist/16gCveUOVUQeVqlqc5TGdm?si=a79ZOk5_QDq-Lpr2texkAQ
Ramble On - Led Zeppelin
I might do a few of these playlists and The Battle of Evermore is sure to be on one of them but I am playing Ramble On a lot at the moment. I loved Led Zeppelin when I was in my teens and used to play them loud in my room whilst reading my runes and tarot cards. You have to love a big loud rock song with slow melodic bits about Lord of the Rings.
Silbury Hill Philllip Henry and Hannah Martin, Edgelarks
I’ve loved Edgelarks for years and this song in particular is so perfect. The lyrics about bankers weaving debt into gold are just bang on about how capitalism isn’t working. A highlight last year was seeing them perform in a tiny church hall in the small village of Shutlanger. It was a magical evening.
Season of the Witch - Donovan
I think Donovan is a bit underrated. Some of his songs are bonkers but I love this track which can be interpreted in so many ways. It includes a dig at people trying to get rich which I appreciate. As a passionate knitter I enjoy the knitting reference but "picking up every stitch" in witchcraft can refer to not leaving anything behind, like fingernails, blood or hair.
Phoebe to Phyllis - Bird in The Belly
I recently discovered Bird in the Belly and was so thrilled when I realised that I knew Jinwoo, the male vocalist, from when I used to put on Alternative Bar Crawl nights in Leicester. The idea was that people would “bar crawl” between cultural venues and a friend and I found poets, musicians, artists and film makers and invited them to perform and show work. We did about 6 in total before it became too much work to be fun anymore.
Queen of Wands - Vanishing Faces
I found Vanishing Faces on Instagram via Fantastic Folk and listened to them so much on Bandcamp that I had to buy their limited edition CD, Foretold, which I highly recommend. They still currently have some available and it comes with a tarot card drawn from the pack, I got the Six of Cups. I love this track and also The Mushroom Song which lists mushroom varieties and is just glorious. https://vanishingfaces.bandcamp.com/
The Sea - Eliza Carthy
I listen to Eliza Carthy all the time. Last year I designed a theatre production called Jack Lear and she arranged the music for it. I only got to meet her once and she let me fan girl all over her for a whole evening and was very kind when I nervously bored her about medieval surgery, which I know nothing about. https://www.musicglue.com/eliza-carthy/
Black is the Colour - Rioghnach Connolly
This is my most recent music crush, discovered when watching the second Folk on Foot Festival (also mentioned below). I love a hauntingly beautiful slow song sung by an amazing woman with an incredible voice. The album this is from, Black Lung, is full of wonders like this. https://rioghnachconnolly.bandcamp.com/album/black-lung
I Was a Young Man - The Owl Service
The Owl Service are no longer together which is a real shame but luckily they made a lot of great music while they were. I found them when I read this fantastic article in the Guardian, written by Robert Macfarlane in 2015:
My special story about them is that I'd bought a lot of their music on Bandcamp but not downloaded it, so when they removed some of it I got in touch to see if I could get it back somehow. Steven Collins sent me a parcel in the post which contained loads of vinyl and past CDs. Opening that generous parcel was an incredible experience and I’ll never forget it. They sample The Wicker Man, absolute legends.
The Driving of the Deer - Bella Hardy
All of Bella Hardy’s music is beautiful and speaks of place and the past. We saw her in the medieval Guildhall in Leicester last year, there was an enormous open fire that we sat by and she played this song that night.
Flutter - The Unthanks
The Unthanks are so incredibly talented, I love all their music. This song feels a bit different to a lot of their other work but it just crawls under my skin and stays there.
Sea King - Songs of Separation
This is from an amazing album of female artists, well worth checking out. This track by Kate Young feels like a magic spell from the sea. There is a great article about the album here - https://www.folkradio.co.uk/2016/01/songs-of-separation-album-review/
Summertime - Big Brother & The Holding Company
This is the sort of track I would put on in my late twenties when I’d had a lot of wine and wanted to have a good cry and sing at the same time. I still can’t get enough of it. If you haven’t seen this heartbreaking documentary about Janis Joplin then do watch it. https://dogwoof.com/janislittlegirlblue
Blackbird - Sam Lee
Sam Lee is the artist that changed everything for me. I first heard his music when he was shortlisted for the Mercury Music prize in 2012 and before then I wasn’t really into modern folk music at all. His new album, Old Wow is wonderful and pretty much everything he does has a depth and quality that is hard to match. His Singing with Nightingales evenings are a thing of wonder. Eric and I went to one in a theatre with a live woodland link up which was lovely, we hope to be in the actual wood with the nightingale one day as well. https://samleesong.co.uk/
Reeds and Rushes - Zervas & Pepper
I crowdfunded this concept album inspired by the book Help the Witch by Tom Cox. There are loads of great tracks on there but this is my current favourite. https://www.fromhererecords.com/products/various-artists-tom-coxs-help-the-witch-a-concept-album-wav
Beltane - Jethro Tull
How much do I love Jethro Tull, let me count the ways... sigh. That’s all. http://jethrotull.com/
None the Wiser - Chris Wood
My favourite song by Chris Wood is The Cottager’s Reply but it's not on Spotify, you can listen here:
I just agree with everything he says and I love his music. He seems like a top bloke as well, I’d love to have a pint with him. Check out his set (and the whole festival) on the recent Folk on Foot Festival 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9WJhWoB1s4&t=19487s
Wild Swimming - Martha Tilston
I have really been enjoying Martha’s lockdown gigs, what a gorgeous human being she is. I love all her work but as I have been missing going wild swimming this summer this one has been played a lot recently.
Charm on, Goldfinch - The Lost Words, Beth Porter
The Lost Words book is so perfect I had high hopes for the Spell Songs album and it way surpassed my expectations. I am sure you must have come across either the book or the album or both but I listen to it all the time and never tire of it. The book makes the perfect gift, it’s stunning.
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