Genre: Folk, Roots, Americana, Country
Band: Jade Rhiannon (Vocals, Shruti Box), Cliff Ward (Banjo, Guitar, Violin, Vocals), Ben Savage (Guitar, Dobro, Vocals), Prue Ward (Violin, Vocals) and Evan Carson (Bodhran, Percussion)
Location: Cambridge, England
Discography (Albums): Beneath our Humble Soil (2012) and Amidst Fiery Skies (2014)
Record Label: Elk Records (Independent)
The Willows are a folk band from Cambridge, UK. Their first album Beneath Our Humble Soil was nominated for Best Debut in the Spiral Earth Awards 2014, and has been championed by the likes of Bob Harris and Mike Harding. The much anticipated follow-up Amidst Fiery Skies, co-produced with Sean Lakeman was released to critical aclaim, with The Telegraph hailing it "a triumph" in a 5-star review and a place in their folk albums of 2014. Fronted by the breathtaking vocals of Jade Rhiannon, supported by rich vocal harmonies and dynamic acoustic musicianship the band take influence from folk traditions on both sides of the Atlantic.
The band were formed in 2010 by husband and wife, Cliff and Jade, sister, Prue, and chance meeting via Gumtree, Ben. Following numerous gigs in folk clubs all over the the UK supporting the likes of LAU, Seth Lakeman, & Peatbog Faeries and an eponymous EP, the band released debut album Beneath Our Humble Soil in 2013. Produced by Stu Hanna (Megson, Faustus, Show of Hands), the album caught the attention of BBC Radio 2's Bob Harris who invited the band in for a live session midway through their UK tour. Maverick Magazine gave the record 4½ stars, and it was subsequently nominated for Best Debut in the Spiral Earth Awards.
Absolutely gorgeous sound – A lovely album – Bob Harris, BBC Radio 2
A hugely enjoyable album; with songs that engage and enliven, music that appeals across the board; a warm and wonderful release – Folk Radio UK
Second album Amidst Fiery Skies sees the band further augment their sound with new member Evan Carson (bodhran), guest double bassist Ben Nicholls (Seth Lakeman Band, The Full English) and co-producer Sean Lakeman. For the first time the band present original, traditional and covered songs side by side, yet in many ways the record feels like their most homogenous work to date. Stories remain at the heart of the album: The banjo-driven Johnny Robson telling of a man who throws himself into the fire after an apparition of his deceased wife. The heartbreakingly tender Outward Bound (a variant on the Faithful Sailor Boy) depicting a ship’s safe return to land without the maiden’s lover aboard. Whilst, The Visitor describes a true story of arguably the most heroic lifeboat rescue in British history. The music itself is rich in power, with the band equally at home with pin-drop intimacy as they are invigorating foot-stompers.
"***** - Amidst Fiery Skies is outstanding!" - The Telegraph
"Already selected for the ‘next big thing’ from the burgeoning herds of young English folkies , their 2nd album is beautifully rendered" - Acoustic Magazine
Alongside their achievements in the studio, a hectic touring schedule has helped the band build a reputation as a compelling live act, appearing at the likes of Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Cambridge Folk Festival, Sidmouth Folk Week, Glastonbury, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness, Towersey, Broadstairs, Sark, Village Pump, Secret Garden Party, Warwick Folk Festival, Folk By The Oak, Village Pump, SommerSound (Germany), Bristol Folk Festival, Purbeck and FolkEast in recent years.