TALES OF EYAM - OKA VANGA
Release Date: 16th October 2015
Genre: Folk, Acoustic, World music
Location: Hertfordshire, England
Record Label: Independent
The Tales of Eyam is the latest wonderful EP from award-winning husband and wife duo Angela Meyer & William Cox, better know as guitar duo Oka Vanga. Both accomplished performers in their own rights, Angie and Will came together to form their unique partnership in 2008. Originally from Cape Town SA, Angie mastered acoustic freestyle, classical guitar and flamenco playing whilst making her mark on the SA music scene before moving to London to pursue her music career and form the guitar duo ‘Oka Vanga’ with Will. Will is a folk guitarist, talented multi-instrumentalist, and established guitar teacher in London. Tales of Eyam follows on from the success of their award winning album “Pilgrim” (2014). This EP sees a departure from this Hertfordshire duo's normal instrumental music as Angie adds her vocal for the first time. Angie has a very good emotive and pure voice which compliments their already very skilled guitar interplay. The album was inspired by their trip to the small Pennine hamlet of Eyam in 2011 and it's tragic tale of love and loss, resolution and self-sacrifice in the 17th century. It's the story of Emmatt Sydell and Rowland Torre. The EP is dedicated to their memory.
The EP has a real feeling of quality and craft with Angie's vocal a revelation. The EP also has a slightly retro feel and harks back to the music of the late 60's/early 70's including Sandy Denny and Fairport Convension.
Tales of Eyam – the Story
“Tales of Eyam” centres on the story Emmott Sydell, a maiden from Eyam, and Rowland Torre, a young flour miller from the neighbouring village of Stoney Middleton. In September 1665 they had recently become engaged and they plan to marry the following summer. But then without warning the Bubonic plague arrives in her village, brought by the fleas on the damp cloth of a taylor from London.
Within days her family and others in Eyam are affected and everyone becomes afraid. Over the next two months Emmott loses 6 members of her family to the Plague. Superstitious rumours of cures and remedies for the disease spread through the village, but all are in vain. Emmott and Rowland continue to meet in secret, but only calling to each other from a distance in the relative safety of the outdoors.
In the spring of 1666 the villagers of Eyam are desperate, fearful and confined within the boundary of their parish so as not to spread the plague. Cut off from the outside would, they have effectively agreed to quarantine themselves even though it would mean death for most of them. Emmott and Rowland meet in secret, calling to each other from a distance.
The Vicar Mompesson starts to hold his church services outside, in the Dell, in the hope that the open air will reduce the chances of people spreading the disease. During Sunday service Emmott, surrounded by birdsong and the quiet of nature, struggles to come to terms with the grief, isolation and loneliness she has endured over the past months. Sadly, four days later she too is stricken with the Plague fever. She dies on 20th April 1666.
The Tales of Eyam begins with the very beautiful Song of The Dell. As well as the trademark excellent guitar palying the track is underpinned by some very good cello from Isobel Smith. The Dell (or Delf) is a secluded place, sheltered by trees, just a little south of Eyam. Sermons were delivered to the villagers from a perforated arch in the ivy-mantle rock, also known as the Cucklett Church. The last Sunday in August is called ‘Plague Sunday’ in Eyam, and each year a commemorative service is held to remember the sacrifice of the villagers. With added percussion from Will the catchy The Witching Hour wouldn't be out of place on a Lucy Ward album. A personal and tender song of love and loss with it's haunting cello and sublime guitar interplay Til The End (Emmott's Song) draws the listener in to the sad story. With it's slightly darker and meloncholy start Beyond This Life (Rowland's Song) drifts quietly then lifts It's mood, painting a picture of Rowland after the loss of Emmott to the Black Death The album ends on a signature Oka Vanga instrumental Out Of The Shadows.
When the village of Eyam was finally declared free of the Plague, it was practically deserted – according to William Wood, in his “History of Eyam,” it was originally thought of the original population of 350 people, 50 fled before the village was cut off. Of those 300 left behind, only 41 had survived.* Houses lay abandoned, crops lay neglected, and the main road was overgrown with grass and flowers through lack of use. Slowly, out of the shadows came the survivors - shell shocked by the horror of what they had endured but ready to rebuild their lives. This instrumental guitar track is a song of the spirit, for those people who seek each brand new day with hope and resilience.
- Song Of The Dell
- The Witching Hour
- Til The End
- Beyond This Life
- Out Of The Shadows