BRING BACK HOME - ANGE HARDY
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH DECEMBER 2017
Artist: Ange Hardy
Release Date: 28th November, 2017
Record Label: Story Records
Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)
It's always a huge treat when Somerset based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Ange Hardy releases new music. 'Bring Back Home', her sixth studio album sees Ange create another piece of highly innovative folk magic. It's a watershed album with a overriding sense of freedom, filled with the pure joys of writing and sharing music with others. A return to Ange's original roots. The album also features a host of excellent guest musicians including Peter Knight (Gigspanner), her duo partner on the last album the very popular and in demand Lukas Drinkwater, Evan Carson, Alex Cumming, Jon Dyer and Lee Cuff (Kadia).
The album begins with a folk story about the origins of good and evil involving a mother and her three daughters called 'Sisters Three'. This rich tale is full of complex characters and strong storytelling. 'Once I Was A Rose' was written for one of Ange's friends who lived in a care home. Although a artist in her youth, arthritis robbed her of the ability to draw or turn the pages of a book. The song described this lady's live in the home and in the time of her youth. Ange says this her 'go and visit your granny' song, highlighting the importance of making time for the people you love. Inspired by conversions with Watchet Town Crier David Milton 'Bring Back Home'. It's maybe the same tale as some of the songs in Barefoot Folk. But at its heart it is about letting go and making the most of what you have..........and knowing when it's time to move on. The song has a lovely vibe with soft finger-picked acoustic guitar, accordion and gentle percussion giving in a nautical feel. Ange turns locally to Wachet for the inspiration for her next song 'St Decuman', a local hermit from Wales who sailed to Wachet with his favourite cow. He lived in peace next to a holy well. After being beheaded by a marauding Dane. He managed to glue his head back on with water from the well. The harp and cello interplay on the song creates a wonderful period piece.
The excellent 'The Hunter, The Prey' is one of the many standout songs on the album. It is the next chapter in the saga of the 'Mother Willow Tree'. The hunter is turned into a hare by a magically willow tree. The hare is hunted down and ultimately killed by one of his own sons. The theme of the song is the passing down of tradition and the warning that the choices our children make are often moulded by our own actions. The appreciation and our connection with nature and countryside is explored in 'Summer's Day / Little Wilscombe'. In our busy lives this is a sage reminder to stop, stand still and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Watch our for some beautiful fiddle from Peter Knight of Gigspanner.
Originally recorded in 2013 for an outline project to commemorate Cecil Sharp 'Claudy Banks (Roud 266)' gave Ange her first national airplay. The song tells the tale of Johnny, an absent sailor lover who returns in disguise. Although the words are traditional, Ange has written a new tune for the song. The willow tree once again makes an appearance in 'Little Benny Sing Well', a tale of perseverance, tenacity and patience. Benny's father tasks him to build a bridge by throwing stones into a river. After Benny's father is killed in the war......twenty-one years later Benny completes his task. A timely reminder of perseverance in the face of adversity. Every little act of kindness is worthwhile and builds up over time into something far stronger. The song also features Peter Knight on fiddle and vocals. The beautiful 'Waters of The Tyne (Roud 1384)' was originally a request that Ange fell in love with and then included on the new album. It's heartfelt and tender with the Ange's harp and vocals creating the perfect mood in this love song. A tale that wouldn't look out of place in a murder mystery 'Husband John' features a devious young maid who kills the lady of the manor to move in and take her place. 'A Girl Like Her' is written for Ange's daughter, a unique, complicated and joyful young lady who is full of positivity.
Inspired by a phrase that Teresa May made in 2016 about 'Just About Managing', 'What May You Do For The JAM?' tells the tale of the hardships of struggling families in the UK. Battling with the world to remain positive and trying to avoid becoming hardened and embittered are the themes discussed in the acoustic guitar led 'Chase The Devil Down'. 'What It Is' is a heartfelt look at not only chasing goals but enjoying the journey as well. A time of reflection and realisation of the important things of life. 'Take Time, be strong'.
'Bring Back Home' is another excellent classic traditional folk album from Ange. It is thoughtful, has real heart and rich high quality storytelling and musicianship. All the songs have a timeless feel and will be enjoyed by folk lovers for many years to come.