COVEN - UNHOLY CHOIR
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 1st March, 2017
Members: Belinda O'Hooley, Heidi Tidow, Rowan Rheingans, Hannah James, Hazel Askew and Grace Petrie.
Record Label: Coven (independent)
It's always very exciting when some of our favourite UK folk artists come together a form a new supergroup. Coven are a collective of three of the British folk scene's finest, most formidable and forthright female acts. Combining the talents of the multi-award winning O'Hooley & Tidow, Lady Maisery and Grace Petrie 'Unholy Choir' is their first recording and it's a great one too. Brought together three years ago to celebrate 'International Women's Day' this new supergroup has gone from strength to strength, currently embarking on a twelve date UK tour including two London dates. Before listening to this EP you're assured of a few things excellent songwriting and arrangements, super harmonies, musicianship and plenty of heart and passion. To quote an old Ronseal advert 'it does what it says on the tin'......or it this case the cover.
The six track EP was recorded at Cooper Hall in Frome over five days. Mixed and mastered by Neil Ferguson (Leveret, Young'Uns, Chumbawamba)
The EP opens with a track originally recorded for Belinda and Heidi album 'The Hum'. The piano led 'Coil & Spring' was written by Belinda and Boff Whalley about Pussy Riot's infamous protest against the Russian Orthodox Church. We love the harmonies and the build on this one. It has the feel of a lavish musical theatre production.
With a new tune written by Rowan to accompany the powerful and poignant words of James Oppenheim, 'Bread & Roses' is a wonderful track Rowan finger picked fiddle gives it a similar feel to Lady M's excellent version of 'Crow On The Cradle'. The song builds perfectly again to a finale of Gracie's guitar, Belinda piano and the 'Unholy Choir' in full fettle.
Originally written and recorded by Kate Bush 'This Woman's Work', Lady Maisery recorded a cover version a few years ago to celebrate International Women's Day. This very impressive new version combines Rowan's fiddle, the richness of Belinda's playing on a Steinway grand piano, Hannah foot percussion and the majesty of six voices in perfect harmony. Emotional and powerful.
'Quitting Time' was written by the sadly departed Maggie Roche for her band The Roches. The song was introduced to the group by Rowan and asked Heidi to sing the lead vocal. Harp, guitar, piano, foot percussion and vocals intertwine around the melody. With it's central theme of 'letting go', the result is a simply a joyous piece of music.
Written by Grace Partie 'If There's A Fire In Your Heart' is a powerful call to action, inviting us into activism no matter how inconsequential our actions may seem. A small candle flame or spark which starts in your heart and explode into an inferno. 'We will light up all the dark'. Gracie's guitar and vocals lead with solo accordion, fiddle, foot percussion, piano and the Coven choir adding extra punch.
The EP closes with the hymn like gospel acapella 'Never Turning Back', a Paul Humphries song about walking forward and never turning back. The song was recorded live in Cooper's Hall with a couple of mics. Hazel starts the first line, followed by Lady M, Grace Petrie and Belinda & Heidi with the ensemble singing together in the choruses.
'Unholy Choir' is an excellent introduction to this new UK female folk supergroup and one that both perfect celebrates and is at the same time a great tribute to 'International Women's Day'. We hope that Coven will continue to release more music in the future in support of this excellent, timely and thought provoking day.
The Coven are currently on a full UK Tour. Please go to www.ohooleyandtidow.com/gigs for further details and tickets to the events