Kathryn Williams sings with beautiful clarity on her interpretative homage to confessional poet Sylvia Plath’s semi-autobiographical novel The Bell Jar, a musical project that grew from an open commission from Writing North in 2013 to write a song commemorating the 50th anniversary of the novels publication. The writers muse was released and a ‘revelatory re-reading’ of The Bell Jar provided the inspiration which led to an initial five-song set that where subsequently performed last year at Durham Town Hall alongside a reading by writer Andrew Wilson from his book ‘Mad Girl’s Love Song – Sylvia Plath and Life Before Ted’.
Though not the first to draw inspiration from Plath’s life and work (there’s a wonderfully eclectic playlist here to enjoy) this thoughtful interpretation has genuine depth and the connection made by Williams led to the creation of more songs over the ensuing months including a collaboration with Ed Harcourt to create the beautiful Cuckoo – my personal favourite from the nine-track release, the album is out today on One Little Indian and available on vinyl too – highly recommended.
Kathryn is currently on tour promoting the album:
Wed 17th June – The Black Swan, York
Thur 18th June – The Burgess Foundation, Manchester
Fri 19th June – The Victoria Theatre, Halifax
Sun 21st June – The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh
Wed 1st July – The Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham
Thur 2nd July – Octagon Chapel, Norwich
Fri 3rd July – Ramsgate Music Hall, Ramsgate
Sat 4th July – The Folk House, Bristol
Wed 8th July – The Green Note, London
Thur 9th July – Cluny 2, Newcastle upon Tyne Tickets
Roll Up The Night Sky is the third album released by Dana Sipos, for me it’s the introduction to her music and on the strength of this release I will definitely be familiarising myself with the Canadian singer-songwriters back catalogue, the nomadic artist spent her formative years in the subarctic city of Yellowknife in the Northern Territories but has travelled unconventionally through Canada for the last few years, touring by tall ship and bicycle and she’s currently making plans to continue her adventures by canoe and train.
Dana sites musical inspiration for the album from artists including Sóley, Portishead, Agnes Obel and Gillian Welch, the result is beguiling combination of haunting vocals and ethereal arrangements wrapped around her sometimes angular and oblique lyrics, highly recommended.
Multi-instrumentalist / singer Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Appalachian ballad singer Elizabeth LaPrelle are touring in the UK this month in support of their recently released self-titled second album, the recording is an inspiring collection and interpretation of sixteen traditional songs (available now from Free Dirt Records), recorded with a deep deference to the past but not wholly shackled by the need for pure authenticity the minimal arrangements focus the listener to the stories and intimate nuances between instrument and vocal.
“Each song has a story,” says Elizabeth LaPrelle of Anna & Elizabeth. “Sometimes it’s right there in the words. Sometimes it’s in who we heard it from and how they learned it. That story, the story of why the songs endure, feels important for us to tell.
Anna & Elizabeth – Little Black Train
By coincidence I have recently finished reading an excellent book (more on that in the future) that had a chapter on the field recording exploits of the John and Alan Lomax and whilst listening to this album it drove home the importance of the work they carried out in preserving the music of the past for future generations to enjoy, learn from and reinterpret, whilst doing some research for media to use with this post I came across a recent article about the Lomax recordings celebrating the centennial year of the folklorist Alan and connecting Anna & Elizabeth – you can read it here at the Huffington Post.
Thu 7 Guildford, Music Institute Folk Club,
Fri 8 London, Musical Traditions Club
Sat 9 Orwell Bluegrass Festival
Sun 10 Dorset, Square & Compass Pub
Mon 11 Todmorden, The Golden Lion
Tue 12 Liverpool, The Caledonia
Wed 13 Sheffield, Upstairs at The Shakespeare
Thu 14 Newcastle, Upstairs at the Bridge Hotel
Fri-Sat 15-16 Fife, Scotland, Fife Traditional Singing Weekend
Sun 17 Stockton on Tees, The Waiting Room
Mon 18 Edinburgh w/Foghorn Stringband, The Traverse
Tue 19 London, The Green Note
Wed 20 Kent, The Bowerhouse
Cuckoo is the first teaser track from Kathryn Williams new album Hypoxia a collection of songs inspired by Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and it’s set for release via One Little Indian on the 15th of June, Kathryn has a series of tour dates lined up either side of the release. Cuckoo was co-written with Ed Harcourt who handled the production on the forthcoming release.
“This song is from the point of Esther’s mother (in The Bell Jar). Seeing a child go through what Esther goes through – the dread, the alienation. I find this hard to listen to. I admired Plath’s unnerving stare – it is this precise reason I have been so visceral with some of my lyrics.”
Wed 20th May JW3, London
Wed 10th June Leaf, Liverpool
Thu 11th June Old Cinema Launderette, Durham
Wed 17th June The Black Swan, York
Thu 18th June The Burgess Foundation, Manchester
Fri 19th June The Victoria Theatre (Green Room), Halifax
Sun 21st June The Voodoo Rooms (Speakeasy Bar), Edinburgh
Wed 1st July The Kitchen Garden Café, Birmingham
Thu 2nd July Octagon Chapel, Norwich
Fri 3rd July Ramsgate Music Hall, Ramsgate
Sat 4th July The Folk House, Bristol
Wed 8th July The Green Note, London
Thur 9th July Cluny 2, Newcastle upon Tyne