Two Songs from my album with Vincent Segal ‘Songs of Time Lost’ filmed and recorded by the Blogotheque in the Cevennes in the Romanesque Church of Cezas.
The exciting news I have to share with you today is the album Songs of Time Lost that I recorded with my good friend Vincent Segal is out in France. It’ll be released in most other countries on Sept 15th however the U.S release on Six Degrees is on the 14th October and for the UK, the 10th of November.
Vincent and I met in Paris in the late 1980s and we’ve been friends ever since and even though we’ve collaborated so much over the years, Songs of Time Lost is our first joint album. It was recorded in three different places in the Cevennes where I live: a family home, a cellar on a wine estate and a Romanesque chapel hidden away in the forest. Using voice, guitar and cello – and sung in a variety of languages from English to Neapolitan dialect and Creole – the album brings together our original compositions, traditionals and some covers.
Album out now:
I first heard this song on my favourite Pentangle album ´Solomon’s seal’. I read later that it was Anne Brigg´s beautiful a cappella version recorded in 1971 that brought this jewel of a song to wider acclaim. Like much of the great English folk canon, this early C19th song blends a delicate and haunting melody with some stunning poetry.
My friend, the South African guitarist and songwriter Nibs van der Spuy introduced me to Dick Gaughan’s masterpiece ‘Handful of Earth’ while we were on tour in South Africa a few years ago. If I had to pick my favourite version of The snows they melt the soonest, it would doubtless be Gaughan’s wonderfully intense and amost spoken rendition.
I live in the Cevennes in Southern France and during the Summer I organize acoustic concerts in the region. For each show, I share the stage with a different artist and friend. After Dawn Landes in May and Vincent Segal in June, I invited Nibs for July’s concert in the Romanesque chapel of Sainte Croix de Caderle. I took advantage of him staying for a couple of days at our home to record a version of The snows they melt the soonest, a song we both love!
As a guitarist and a songwriter I’ve been been influenced by many different styles of traditional folk music from around the world. Two of the main schools of influence through which I eventually found my own way of writing were the folk music traditions of England, Scotland and Ireland and those of West Africa, more specifically Mali. In the early nineties, I came across the music of Martin Carthy and Davey Graham at around the same time that I discovered the Malian greats, Boubacar Traore and Ali Farka Toure. As incongruous as it might be to compare the musical equivalent of a frosty winter morning on an English moor with that of sweltering afternoon on the Niger Delta, I’ve always felt there were endless points of comparison between the two worlds. I began my side project The River, with the Malian master N’goni player, Badje Tounkara and French guitarist Seb Martel in order to deepen this profoundly complementary dialogue.
Being the descendant of Italian, Irish, Ashkenazi and Gypsy immigrants, I don’t have a big claim to represent British or Irish Folk traditions any more than I do those of West Africa but what I do feel I can stake a claim to is the right to blend styles just as my blood has been blended with the trace of so many different languages. I’ve written several songs both for my own albums and for The River that explore the dialogue between northern European Folk and West African traditions but I wanted for the ongoing Vol II of Songs I love to find a cover that I could play with in the same way. Much has been made of the links between Mississippi blues and Mali but I find the ties between certain aspects of British and Irish and Malian folk to be just as strong. Martin Carthy is one of my all time favorite guitar players, I played Badje Tounkara his version of Cold haily, windy night and Badje said.”On dirait la musique de chez nous” “It sounds like music from my country”
With Kitty I’ll go is a wonderful song that I first heard sung by the extraordinary Norma Waterson. I fell in love with it when I discovered Waterson Carthy’s first album. Reading Martin Carthy’s original liner notes, I found out that it was an Irish song and that there is also a version in Gaelic. I live in the hills of the Cevennes, in a land that I left London for in order to ‘ramble over the mountains wild.’ so singing these wonderful words feels like a perfect match!