FINDINGS - ANGE HARDY AND LUKAS DRINKWATER
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - OCT 2016
Release Date: 13th September, 2016
Location: Somerset, UK
Band: Ange Hardy (Vocals, Guitar, Harp & Whistle), Lukas Drinkwater (Vocals, Guitars and Double Bass), Archie Churchill-Moss (Diatonic Accordion), Ciaran Algar (Fiddle), Evan Carson (Percussion and Backing Vocals)
Record Label: Story Records
It's always exciting to witness the birth of a very special musical partnership. The coming together of two very talented and successful singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists to create something more than the sum of their own individual gifts. 'Findings' the new duo album from Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater is a watershed album, a seamless fusion of old traditional folk and new original music. Findings carries the idea of 'parts used to join jewellery components together to form a complete article'. This fits perfectly both with Ange and Lukas' musical partnership as well as with the fusion and creation of their music It is a personal album about relationships and family, the parting and joining in life's endless cycle. This album is very special to LCM, as we hosted the first official duo concert from Ange & Lukas in St. Pancras Old Church, London in November 2015.
The songs on the album are written, arranged and produced by Ange and Lukas with a host of super guest artists who complement greatly to overall feel and flavour of the album. These including the multi-award winning Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Roberts and Ciaran Algar along with Archie Churchill-Moss (Moore Moss Rutter), Evan Carson (The Willows, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys) and the very good Steve Pledger who co-wrote 'Far Away From Land". The album was recorded by Olly Winters-Owen at Beehive Studio and executively produced by Ange's husband Rob.
This a high quality album starting from it's packaging and release campaign through to the superb quality of musicianship, songwriting and arrangements. Don't be surprised if this album and Ange & Lukas feature strongly in 2017's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. The album is very true to it's name and doesn't have any weak links.
The album begins with three linked songs about Wachet, 'The Call/Daughters Of Wachet/Caturn's night'. Wachet is close to Ange's home and also features in Ange's last album 'Esteesee' about the life and times of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This combination of songs has some very high quality sumptuous harmonies and arrangements. 'The Call' first took shape at an EFDSS songwriting workshop led by Nancy Kerr. While the 'Daughters of Wachet' are the stories of Mary, Annie, Molly, Sally and their husbands. 'Caturn's Night' is a tribute to a local Wachet yearly celebration of Queen Catherine (pronounced by the locals as 'Caturn), the Portuguese wife of King Charles II who delivered a boatload of spiced cider and hot cakes as a gift to the people of Wachet.
'The Pleading Sister' is based on 'Little Boy Blue' (Roud 19703). There is only one verse of the original song. So Ange wrote the surrounding story of his pleading sister, who suffers the consequence of the boys idleness when she is trampled by startled cows and impaled on a blunt pitchfork. Another classic happy folk song ending.
One of our favourites on the album is the sublime 'The Trees They Do Grow High' (Roud 31). It's almost spine-tingling at time with the combination of harp, whistle, guitar and double bass coupled with floating and super tight harmonies. The chorus really resonates 'Growing, growing, my bonny bonny boy he is growing'. It's the first traditional song that Ange and Lukas arranged together and it was inspired by Lucy Ward and Bella Hardy's version on 'Liberty To Choose'.
'Far Away From Land' originates from a new story they read as part of their EFDSS residency. It is the true story of Manfred Fritz Bajorat who chose to leave behind the harsh winters of Germany and spend his life at sea. Twenty years later he was found drifting off the coast of Barobo, having died on board and been perfect mummified by the salt air, temperatures and strong winds. The story is nicely paired with The Sea (Roud V4673). Some lovely rounds here which make the song almost haunting, with vocals from Ange, Lukas and Steve Pledger who co-wrote the song.
One of our firm favourites on the album is another song which was created at the same EFDSS residency at Cecil Sharp House. 'By The Tides' is a powerful and thought-provoking response to the current humanitarian crisis and the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean. Many families escaping from war torn areas hoping to find a more peaceful and better lives have been drowned at sea. Vulnerable children have been separated or even orphaned from the parents. Drowned children have even washed up on beaches, causing public outcry. All of us hope that this tide changes and this terrible chapter of our history can come to an end. This moving song has gentle picked duo acoustic guitar with the lingering refrain 'By the tides all as the seasons change'.
'My Grandfathers/Bearded Ted of Raddington' are two songs about Ange's ancestors in rural Somerset. The first song deals with people who have animosity and still hold forefathers responsible for historical conflicts between countries. The second is in honour of Ange's grandfather Ted, a farmer from Raddington and his marvellous bushy and prickly beard.
We next come to what I think is a potential award-winning and very exciting original song, 'True Are The Mothers' features both Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts guesting on vocals, who I know have been great inspirations to Ange and her music. It's a song about firmly rooted trees and the role they play in life and folklore. It's also a song about folk tradition, motherhood and having strong roots. Ange, Nancy and Kathryn are all wonderful examples of working and successful mothers in the UK Folk World. Sublime vocals underpinned by some excellent harp playing....it still gives me goose-bumps each time I hear it. It really has the 'wow' factor and it's one I would love to see performed live with Nancy and Kathryn at the RAH.
The traditional 'The Berkshire Tragedy' (Roud 8) one of the many variations of 'The Two Sisters' is next to receive a re-working and new interpretation from Ange and Lukas. It is a tale of a West Country miller, the murder of a fair maid and her evil sister. A very catchy tune masking two dark acts of violence.
The very personal and heartfelt 'The Widow' started as a song about Ange's brother. It reflects on the way memories form and then slowly fade away in time. Some stunning instrumental arrangements with wonderful interplay between Ange's harp, Ciaran's fiddle and Lukas' guitar and double bass. Light percussion from Evan and accordion from Achie provide the backdrop. It almost has a theatrical quality and you can imagine it set in a dark and misty Paris night in the time of 'The Phantom of The Opera'. 'Four years they have passed and I'm tired of breathing, for time it does fade and my memories leaving. I too am now sleeping and angels hold me in their keeping'.
'Bonny Lighter-Boy' (Roud 843) is another re-arranged tradition folk song with newly composed music around the existing words which Ange and Lukas found online. A lighter is a type of flat bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships. A love story about a merchant's daughter and a young sailor lad. Like most folk songs this don't end well. Very catchy melody and hook to this one.
Another song written as part of the EFDSS residency is 'Invisible Child' focusing in the issue of more than 10,000 forgotten young child careers in England and Wales, often no more than five who care for their parents. Careers under eight are often unsupported because no one expects them to be taking on such adult responsibilities.
This very personal song original written for Ange's daughter Amy provides some very sage advice. I alway love the looped harmonies on the live version. 'Daughter Dear Daughter' has a lot in common with Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman's 'A Song To Live By'. Passing on life's wisdom so their children can develop the skills and wisdom to be independent and make wise choices. To be a positive influence and survive in the world in which we live.
An exquisite fusion of old and new is the fantastic 'The Parting Lullaby' (The Parting Glass - Roud 3004). An original song weaved together with the very famous 'Parting Glass', sung from a mother to a child and framed within a lullaby. Classic.
Perfectly ending the album is 'Fall Away (Epilogue)' which draws to a conclusion the tale of the Daughters Of Wachet. All the industries that were the beating heart of Wachet are now sadly gone. The closure of the Wansbrough Paper Mill in 2015 (opened in 1846) brought an end to the era of seafaring and steam power.. The steam railway which was so vital for the town is now a tourist attraction. It makes you wonder if they were alive today, would they recognise their own town?
'Findings' is a remarkable collection of UK folk music, a perfect blend of old and new from a very talented duo. I have the feeling that however wonderful this album is, Ange and Lukas' greatest accomplishments still lay in the future. As they continue their upward trajectory to some of the leading lights of the new UK Folk Revival.