Songs of Separation

Okay, this is a fun new thing for my website: a recommendations section.  This month it has mainly been Jenny Hill’s project Songs of Separation.  As the website puts it:

Songs of Separation brought together ten female folk musicians from Scotland and England, to create a recording which reflects on the issue of ‘separation’ in its many forms, through traditional song. Celebrating the similarities and differences in our musical, linguistic and cultural heritage, and set in the context of a post-referendum world, the work aims to prompt new thinking about the issue of separation as it occurs in all our lives.

Throwing a bunch of random musicians together for a short period of time and getting them to record an album is always a bit of a gamble: it can easily sound like less than the sum of its parts.  Or, as in this case, it can sound like a band that’s been playing forever.  Right from the first track, Echo Mocks The Corncrake, you know you’re in for something special.  And it really is the best trad album I’ve heard in a while, and the reason is because it’s really strong in an area where so many traditional artists are weak: variation.  There are many great artists out there who are technically really proficient, but after about Track 4 you know you’re just going to hear more of the same.  And with the really great artists, that’s okay, because the same is really good.  But so few people in traditional music focus on creating interesting and varied sound on record.  Perhaps because it’s considered a bit sinful in traditional music to do anything but capture the same bunch of musicians playing in a room.  But I love the percussion on this album, the strange noises, the constant shifts in tone like the Hebridean weather.

And watching the documentary above, it looks like they all had a blast.  And I think you can hear that (in a good way) on the record.  Go check it out!

Current favourite track: Unst Boat Song

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