ESTEESEE - ANGE HARDY
LCM ALBUM OF THE MONTH - SEP 2015
Release date: October 4th, 2015
Record Label: Story Records
Ange Hardy is a quite extraordinary artist, she has the wonderful gift of writing songs which sound like they have been part of the classic folk music cannon for centuries. They have a mark of real quality, depth and permenance. Ange's new project 'Esteesee' has taken everything that was brilliant about her last five-star rated album 'The Lament of the Black Sheep' and then taken it to a completely new level. It would't surprise us if 'Esteesee' was included at the very top of the 2015 Folk Album of the Year lists or that Ange received further commissions on the strength of this album. Ange and the new album are also our firm favourites to be nominated in next year's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. We love the subtle touches in the production and orchestration of this album, which you only really appreciate on multiple plays. It reminds us of slowly turning a diamond to reveal yet another stunning facet. Simply put 'Esteesee' is a highly original, beautifully produced and seminal UK folk album, which will be treasured for years to come.
The new album 'Esteesee' is inspired by the life and works of the great English poet and writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834). Samuel Coleridge disliked his name, so by the age of 16 he had starred referring to himself using his intials S.T.C. and would often write them phonetically as 'Esteesee'. Coleridge is perhaps best know for writing the poems 'The Rime of the Ancient Marnier' and 'Kubla Khan'. He was also friends with William Wordsworth and the pair are credited as being the founders of Romanticism.
Ange is joined on the album by a host of great other musicians including Steve Knightley (Show of Hands), Patsy Reid, Lukas Drinkwater, Steve Pledger, Jonny Dyer, Jo May, Andrew Pearce, Archie Churchill-Moss (Moore Moss Rutter) and Kate Rouse (Kara). There is spoken word on the album too and this is provided by Tamsin Rosewell and David Milton (Wachet Town Crier).
The album opens with the sublimely beautiful The Foster-Mother's Tale. It is a tale of a baby found in the woods by woodman Leoni. The story continues with this baby growing up into his youth, his corruption and imprisonment, his escape and then ultimate decline.
My Captain is based on the beginning of one of Coleridge's famous poems 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. The song starts with the excitement of the start of the voyage. Once the ship had left the harbour in the Ancient Mariner it seemed though their fate was sealed and everything that followed was inevitable. With an excellent use of instrumentation on this song, it paints a vivid picture of the ship preparing for the voyage at the harbour.
The Curse of the Dead Man's Eye sets the tone of the mixed fortunes of life at sea. The horrific imagery of being reduced to the desperate state of drinking your own blood to quench your own thirst, as the ship is becalmed in the Doldrums. The original Ancient Marnier poem contains some great visual imagery including the ships voyage to the Antartic, the shooting of the Albatross, the encounter with the ghostly hulk and the eventual sinking of the ship. As Ange says in the sleeve notes she could have written an entire album on this great poem. The small harbour town at Wachet allegedly inspired Coleridge to write the poem of the 'Ancient Mariner'. There is some great moody percussion from Jo on the song, which really sets the tone.
William Frend was one of Coleridge's tutors at Cambridge who was put on trial for publishing a leaflet condeming much of the liturgy of the Church. Both Coleridge and Frend believed in equality of man and were very interested in the legacy and liberty of the French Revolution. This song will be Ange's first single from the album.
Friends of Three is based on the close relationship Coleridge had with William and Dorothy Wordsworth. They would often walk in the Quantock Hills around Exmoor together.
Another of Coleridge's famous poems is Kubla Khan and for the album it is recited by the excellent Tamsin Rosewell. This is backed by Ange on Guitar/Whistle and Kate Rouse on Hammered Dulcimer, which cleverly adds a new layer to the atmosphere of the poem.
George was Coleridge's older brother and one who he constantly relied on. Much of the sentiment of this song is based on letters between Coleridge and his friends and family.
Pantisocracy means 'equal or level government for all'. The idea was friends Robert Southey, Robert Lovell and Coleridge would move to the banks of the Susquehanna in America to start a new and better life. Like many of Coleridge's scheme's it was full of hope and optimism but often impractical.
Epitaph of an Infant is based on the second verse of Coleridge's poem of the same name. This touching song of hope and optimism works perfecty with the harp.
Might is in the Mind is a very interesting 'ghost' story. We don't want to spoil the ending, so you need to listen very carefully to the lyrics.
Mother You Will Rue Me (Ft. Steve Knightley) is based on the true story of Coleridge running away from home at the age of 8 and later thinking with inward and gloomy satifaction how misable it must have made his mother.
Esteesee the title track is based on a childhood prayer 'Matthew, Mark, Luke and John' (or 'The Black Paternoster'). Coleridge wrote in a letter 'This prayer I said nightly and most firmly believe the truth of it. Frequently have I half-awake. half-asleep, my body diseased and feavered by my imagination, seen armies of ugly things bursting in upon me, and these four angels keeping them off'
The Coleridge Way is the 51 mile footpath from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth, which lead Ange to discover Coleridge. It passes Ange's front door and the church in which she was married. Along The Coleridge Way is Ange's tribute to Coleridge.
The final song on the album Elegy For Coleridge is fittingly based on elements of Coleridge's own epitaph. Coleridge rests in St. Michael's Church, Highgate
Stop, Christian passer-by! - Stop, child of God,
And read with gentle breast. Beneath this sod
A poet lies, or that which once seemed he
O, lift one thought in prayer for S.T.C.,
That he who many a year with toil of breath
Found death in life, may he find life in death
Mercy for praise - to be forgiven for fame
He asked and hoped through Christ
Do thou the same!