Artist: Ruth Notman & Sam Kelly
Release Date: 15th March, 2019
Record Label: Pure Records
‘Changeable Heart’ is set to be one of most exciting UK folk releases this year. It stars two of the finest young singers to emerge from UK folk scene in the last few years, Sam Kelly and Ruth Notman. The added sparkle on the album is provided by Damien O’Kane who produced the album. It has the feel of one of Kate Rusby’s recent albums as Kate has a similar vocal style. These are songs of love from every perspective, spurned, fragile, brave and saucy.
The multiple award winning Sam is very well know for his work with Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys and The Changing Room as well as producing many excellent folk albums. Ruth was a finalist in the 2007 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards (in her duo Bryony Bainbridge) and it is so great to see her back releasing music. Sam had long admired Ruth’s musical talents and decided to contact her out of the blue. Ruth was completing her medical studies at the time. They met up and the stage was set for this wonderful new duo album.
Recorded at Kate Rusby’s lengendary Pure Records studio the album features six new takes on traditional songs and covers of Ewan MacColl and Paul Brady classics. Ruth penned the poignant ‘As You Find Your Way Home’, while Sam and Ruth co-wrote the new albums stand-out and soaring title track ‘Changeable Heart’.
Ruth play piano & accordion while Sam plays guitar on the album. They are joined by Damien O’Kane (guitar and banjo), Josh Clarke (percussion, synths, electric bass), Anthony Davis (keyboards and strings) and Ross Ainslie (whistles).
The album begins with the beautifully seductive and gentle ‘The Bold Fisherman’ before launching into their wonderful and my personal favourite ‘can’t live with them, can’t live without them’ title track’ ‘Changeable Heart’. The mood changes to light comedy for their spirited take on the infectious traditional folk ‘The Cunning Cobbler’, a cuckolding tale of the butcher, the butcher’s wife, the scheming cobbler…… and a policeman.
Ruth’s gentle and sensitive piano playing introduces the Scottish pastoral folk song ‘Caw The Yowes’ [“Drive the ewes to the hill”] collected by Robert Burns in 1794. I love the blend of Sam and Ruth’s vocal. This continues in the delicate love story ‘Sweet Lass Of Richmond Hill’.
The classy traditional Irish air ‘My Lagan Love’ builds into a rich and haunting soundscape with Damien and Josh adding electric guitar and percussion into the mix. This track would be great for a TV or film soundtrack. Ruth’s poignant ‘As You Find Your Way Home’ is edged with her lamenting beautiful accordion. This blends perfectly into ‘Young Brian Of The Sussex World’, with Ross adding whistles and lifting the song towards a happy ending.
Next is a stripped brooding cover of Ewan MacColl’s ‘School Days Over’, a song marking the end of childhood and the start of a miner’s life. The album closes with a cover of Paul Brady’s 1985 political anthem ‘The Island’. The song parallel’s the Lebanese Civil War with the troubles in Paul’s native Ireland.
The album is wonderful, classy collection of folk music. It welcomes back the very talented Ruth back into the UK folk scene, partnering her with one of the fastest rising young male stars.
Ruth and Sam are on a UK tour in early April with their London date at Rich Mix on April 8th. On the strength of this fantastic album, it’s a date you don’t want to miss.
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