LADY MAISERY - CYCLE
LCM ALBUM OF THE WEEK
Release Date: 28th October, 2016
Genre: Traditional Folk
Band members: Hazel Askew, Hannah James and Rowan Rheingans
Location: Sheffield and London, UK
Record Label: Rootbeat Records
It is always very exciting when multi award winning UK Trad Folk supergroup trio Lady Maisery release new material. The excellent 'Cycle' is their highly anticipated 3rd studio album featuring their trademark sumptuous three part harmonies, quality musicianship and songwriting. A new fuller band sound adds rich layers to their already special music. 'Cycle' is the follow up to their wonderful 'Mayday' album, released three years ago in 2013. The album also contains 'tune singing' 'diddling' or 'lilting', a form of traditional singing common in the Gaelic speaking areas of Ireland and Scotland. In some ways it resembles traditional 'scat' singing. Lady Maisery discusses the inspiration for the album in the sleeves notes "we were inspired to make an album that looks backwards and forwards, new songs and newly imagined old songs which together tell stories of life journeys, it's different stages, its challenges, it's losses and its ever turning cycles......it helps us understand each other and our place in the world and gives us strength to find a way forward when the path divides or the cycle appears broken....We have aimed, with this album, to capture the raw energy of our live performances. As such, a lot of the music has been recorded as 'live' as possible and we have tried to keep a rawness and a closeness to the sound."
A short song-cycle of seasonal pieces punctuates the album, each recorded a little differently, alongside the sounds of the world around us: birds, leaves, wind and sea.
Lady Maisery will be releasing the album at a launch gig at The Bedford, Balham on 27th October, 2016. This will be followed by a UK Tour, which we highly recommend.
The album opens with 'Sing For The Morning' written by Rowan which includes a traditional French rondeau after the fiddling of Luc Charles-Dominique. The song was inspired by a bicycle ride between Sheffield and the Pyrenees. Experiencing the countryside burst into life after a long wet winter. It's the start of the Spring cycle. The song also features some traditional 'diddling'.
'Quiet Joys of Brotherhood' has always been one of my favourite Richard Farina songs and now in the hands of Lady M it receives a new makeover with the introduction of Rowan's 'Bansitar' which perfectly sets the mood. Richard's original poem was set to an old Irish tune and recorded by his wife Mimi on their album 'Memories', released two years after Richard's untimely death in a motorbike accident.
'Honest Work' a lovely cover of a Todd Rundgren song first released for his 1985 album 'A Capella". A heartfelt lament for the collapse of old industry, the lives thrown down into the scrapheap when their work is done and the new challenges and life changes that the workers face.
Complete with bird song 'The Sun Returns' is for a hymn by Rev John Newton with Hannah adding a new tune.
'Bagpipes/Sheila's 70' is a fusion of two tunes the traditional 'Bagpipes' found in a 1799 manuscript by William Mittell of Romney, Kent and a song written by Hannah in tribute to her Aunt Sheila who celebrated her 70th birthday.
One of our favourite songs on the album is the thought-provoking, reflective and wonderful 'A Father's Lullaby'. Written by Hazel around a traditional lullaby collected by Frank Collinson. This song was inspired by a visit to the Foundling Museum in London. The Foundling hospital was the first children's home founded in 1739. Hazel was stuck that many of the children would have been taken by their by their fathers, unable to look after them after their mothers had died in childbirth.
With a surreal and floating introduction 'Beautiful Leaves' heralding the start of the Autumnal cycle, is a Frank Kidson Broadside with new music from Rowan.
'Reset' is taken from a song cycle by contemporary classical composers Emily Hall and Toby Litt.
The pace rises for the 'Diggers Song', a traditional song with words from Gerrard Winstanley. The Diggers were a group of Protestant radicals who believed in economic equality and wanted to reform the existing social order. The movement was started by Winstanley in 1649. It is interesting to reflect on the words of the song and situation that existed in the 1700 and parallel them to the present day.
The infectious 'Eostre' is a tune for springtime named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess of dawn (where we get our English word for 'Easter'). The music was written by Hazel.
Another exquisite Hazel penned tune 'Order and Chaos' focuses on understanding things that cannot be immediately explained. Folk songs often reflect our attempts to understand the events in our lives and many songs deal with the subject of death and our parting from this world. The song was inspired by Aaron's Freeman's "You Want A Physicists To Speak At Your Funeral" and Mary & John Gribbins "The Science Of Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials"
As we move into the third season of Winter, we come to 'The Winter Of Life', originally collected from Devon with new music by Hazel.
Fittingly the final track of the album is a farewell song 'Land On The Shore', which may have been originally been a traditional American Shaker hymn. As Lady M comments "In the past year, this song has taken on a new relevance for us us in light of the huge number of displaced people in the world hoping to find a new life on a safer shore".
'Cycles' is a wonderful collection of traditional and re-imagined songs with the hallmark of high quality from Hazel, Hannah and Rowan.