A diverse roster of recording artists - spanning
half a century between the oldest and youngest - have contributed
contemporary interpretations of traditional English songs to a new album
released as a companion piece to The Folk Handbook: Working With Songs From
The English Tradition, published in the UK and US this summer by Backbeat
"Old Wine/New Skins", released via Proper Music Distribution this October
2007 on Market Square Records' Dusk Fire imprint, compiles 17 songs from the
book in performances all but one of which have been recorded in recent
years; many have been recorded specially for this album and thus are
Contributors, including English, Scots, Americans and other nationalities,
count Lisa Knapp, Tom Paxton, James Yorkston, Robin & Bina Williamson and
The Devil's Interval amongst others - renowned or about to be.
From time to time interest in traditional music extends beyond the
boundaries that usually contain it. What all the performers here have in
common is that they have been drawn to traditional music during one or other
of those periodic surges of interest.
Interpretations vary delightfully in tone and genre, from the
straight-playing of James Raynard's "The Outlandish Knight" and Barry
Dransfield's "John Barleycorn", to a sad, country-tinged "What Is The Life
Of A Man?" by Michael Weston King, a folk-rock take of "the Broomfield
Wager" by Jacqui McShee's Pentangle, a nu-folk "Come Write Me Down" by
Serafina Steer, and a chilling, folk-psych rendering of "The Unquiet Grave"
The 78 minute-long album, which also features a rare performance by 1960s
cult actor/singer Noel Harrison, is book-ended evocatively acappella by
rising star Lucy Wainwright Roche's "Barbara Allen" and the first lady of
folk, Shirley Collins' concluding salute in "Adieu To Old England."
In a 20-page booklet with song-by-song artists notes, pictures, historic
illustrations, music writer Mark Brend in his introductory notes asks what
it is that attracts this diverse crowd to these songs of old England,
putting the root cause to the evocatively-termed "gleams of enduring truth".
Old Wine/New Skins
1. Barbara Allen - Lucy Wainwright Roche 3.07 +
2. Long Lankin - The Devil's Interval 5.20
3. Geordie - The Green House Band 4.17
4. The Outlandish Knight - James Raynard 7.56
5. O Pleasant And Delightful - Noel Harrison 3.36 +
6. Oxford City - Julie Murphy 4.02
7. A Blacksmith Courted Me - Lisa Knapp 5.35
8. John Barleycorn - Barry Dransfield 3.21
9. Edward - James Yorkston & The Athletes 6.10
10. What Is The Life Of A Man? - Michael Weston King 4.44 +
11. The Little Gypsy Girl - Robin & Bina Williamson 4.23 +
12. The Bonny Labouring Boy - Sabbath Folk 4.19 +
13. Come Write Me Down - Serafina Steer 2.00 +
14. The Unquiet Grave - Circulus 4.03 (previously unreleased)
15. The Banks of Sweet Primroses - Tom Paxton 2.59 +
16. The Broomfield Wager - Jacqui McShee's Pentangle 7.49
17. Adieu To Old England - Shirley Collins 2.00
+ denotes tracks especially recorded for this album
'The songs may be traditional in the sense that they have grown from the
past, but they are contemporary in the sense that they speak to us now about
the very stuff of life: love, the turn of the seasons, sex, romance, death,'
'Like life itself they are strange and tender and violent. It is this that
will ensure that the songs will survive us all, way beyond a time when email
and management consultants seem like quaint anachronisms.
'In the meantime, what we have here is 17 performers taking brief custody of
the songs, filtering them through their own experiences, styles, talents and
traditions, and making something new out of the old.'
"Old Wine/New Skins" is a journey into the past celebrated by skilled
musicians that have referenced these songs with love and care, in a
collective work of substance and continuity that is in turn, witty, warm,
charming, nostalgic, sad, unnerving … much like life.