HEIRLOOMS & HEARSAY - ROXANNE DE BASTION
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - MAY 2017
Release Date: 5th May, 2017
Genre: Alt-Folk, Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Location: London, UK
Record Label: Nomad Songs
It's always very exciting when Berlin born and London based singer-songwriter Roxanne de Bastion releases new music. Especially when it is her new second album and a very special groundbreaking one at that. 'Heirlooms and Hearsay' is perfectly named as it links three generations of the very talented and musical de Bastion family. It tells their stories, sharing their memories and their music. Containing all self-penned songs and a co-write the album explores Roxanne's life, her feelings, her family history and rich musical heritage. Including valuable heirlooms like the family piano handed down through the generations by her great grandfather Aladar Holzer which was one of the inspiration for the album.
Moving from the more 'stripped' sound of her debut album 'The Real Thing' released in 2013, the new album has a fuller sound with more instrumentation and richer arrangements. Roxanne has invited a host of guest musicians including Peter Miles, Patrick James, Tim Langsford, India Bourne, Seb Haskins, Stuart Irwin, Matthew Reynolds, Lauren Deakin-Davies, Raphael Knapp, Karl Neukauf, Ben Walker, Thom Morecroft, her father Richard and grandfather Stephen. It's also interesting to note that Roxanne has chosen three co-producers for the new album the very popular and in-demand Peter Miles, the multi-award winning Ben Walker and Folkstock's very own Lauren Deakin-Davies, all of which add some special into this rich layered mix of original music.
The album's first track 'Run' is a very heartfelt and personal song inspired by Roxanne’s grandfather Stephen de Bastion (or Istvan Bastyai von Holzer). It is the powerful song dedicated to those forced to flee from their homes, due to circumstances beyond their control and become refugees. Roxanne draws parallels between her grandfather's time and the modern era, exploring how trauma gets passed on through generations and highlights society’s very short-term memory. The 'Run' video is animated by Graeme Maguire, who if you may remember also made Roxanne's 'Rerun' video. I love the build on the track with it's Beatlesque string arrangements. Also watch out for the pictures of the three generations of Roxanne's family in the video.
With intro from Stephen. Next up is the very radio friendly and catchy 'Heart Of Stone'. It has a real late 80's pop classic feel about it. "For my heart turns into stone, becomes a weight to carry around. Wash the blood up off my hands and let me come to......."
As Roxanne travels a huge amount by train across Europe, it is very appropriate that she has included the autobiographical 'Train Tracks'. It has very sage advice for all travelling troubadours "Do what you love. Do what you can. Don't buy into their sh*t. Do it with style. Do it with grace....and never loose your temper, when you're in the thick of it" . The piano on the track is provided by Roxanne's father Richard. In 2014 Berlin celebrated 25 years of reunification. The city is one of a kind, its history unique and its development strange, dark and beautiful. In Roxanne's song 'Wasteland', the ode to the place of her birth, captures this all perfectly. Roxanne is joined on the track by the excellent Ben Walker (Electric Guitar) and India Bourne (Cello).
We move into dreamlike Prog Folk Rock for 'Within', an exploration of Roxanne's inner thoughts and feelings. "And who are you if not me? Where did you come from? Within." Containing the album title 'All That Remains' is very reflective and personal. "Be this all that remains, while my face fades in its frame. I don't even really know if you know me........Be this all that remains Heirlooms & Hearsay". Watch out for more Beatles influences later in the track. The piano led 'Thicker Skin' about relationships and growth. Not blaming others for your failings, but to grow a thicker skin and move on. Some lovely wordplay here "Like these walls....and like a promise, you are paper thin"
The many difficulties of relaxing at night and the 'monster' that is insomnia is the next subject of 'Unwind'. It's interesting here to have the off-beat percussion, piano, bass and fuzzy sound guitar solo underpinning the track, which creates a feeling of unease and disturbance. "As the hour grows unkind, circles never end. Don't mind repeating of the mind for sleep again......It takes time.....to unwind". Co-written with another excellent singer-songwriter Thom Morecroft is the rocky 'The Painter'. Again rich with wonderful metaphors. "No one confirmed all of my fears remain but a shadow throughout my years. Brushing of strokes to sweep them away, so I can go about my day".
My favourite track from Roxanne's 2015 'Seeing You' EP is the excellent and classy 'Rerun'. Produced by the award winning Ben Walker, this is a wonderfully arranged and produced track. It was a real watershed moment in Roxanne's musical career and an early taster of the direction she would go in for the second album. Great piano from Karl Neukouf and cello from Raphael Knapp, which perfectly compliment Roxanne's vocals.
The album concludes very aptly with an almost 'haunting' self composed piano track by Roxanne's grandfather Stephen called the 'The Old Mill'. It is taken from the original ferrograph recording in 1954. Also very fittingly the album dedicated to Stephen. Another professional and high quality musician in the de Bastion family story and one who would be very proud indeed of his grand-daughter's new album.