Derbyshire’s Award-Winning star of Brit-Folk, Lucy Ward to release new album

Lucy wardSome things change, some remain the same. For her much-anticipated second album (the follow up to the 2011 debut Adelphi Has To Fly), the 23-year old singer, guitarist, ukulele and concertina player Lucy Ward delivers a finely-tuned synthesis of original and traditionally arranged material. Production is again by Stu Hanna (of acclaimed folk duo Megson, both of whom also sing and play here). There, however, the similarities end as the new album – Single Flame – finds Lucy organically broadening her musical palette whilst remaining firmly rooted in a folk tradition that gives shape and form to her sound. Balancing the contemporary and the traditional is never an easy act to achieve but Lucy does it with a natural gift and flair. Her songwriting creates the kind of original songs that you think you’ve heard somewhere before – on an old folk recording or the radio; a testament to the quality of her lyrics, melodies and ‘hooks’.

As a child and in her early teens, Ward grew up in a household where she heard recordings by the likes of Melanie and Bob Dylan and absorbed their lyrics and impact. The album opener I Cannot Say, I Will Not Speak has the lines “they sang the songs of Safka / Candles in the rain”. “The idea behind this song” she says “was how a generation of people sung songs of peace and protest in the 1960’s and yet peace has still to come. The lyrics”, she continues, “were born out of imagining there was just a candle left in the rain, a single flame, a ray of hope that we must protect because it only takes one flame to start a fire”.

Her song For The Dead Men made a first appearance as a single in January 2012 and was subsequently used in the soundtrack to the award winning director Kim Hopkins’ documentary film Folie a Deux (“Madness Made of Two”), which premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam in November 2012. It’s a moving song and performance. “I wrote this song for the dead men” she says. “The dead men are all the people who marched before us, campaigning for justice. The dead men are also those who are apathetic to what is happening around them and their power to affect it. Lastly, the dead men are all those who are left to fall off the thin end of the wedge.” It’s a song about time passing; how we react to it, how we shape our history or allow it to shape us. What we do to stand up for the rights of ordinary people. “Stand up and take to the streets / they can’t ignore us if we all choose to speak”.

Shellback she says “is the first song I ever wrote. Its inspired by a generation of men, my grandfather included, who were conscripted, lost sight of what was at home and in some cases found vices to fill the void of what they had left behind.”

Ward’s songs are compassionate and insightful. They’re also capable of seeing beyond a single event, no matter how emotional and traumatic, to the wider context. One of the most striking original works here does that: it’s called The Consequence and its about violence within the domestic environment and how it destroys and changes the nature of family and home forever. “Shame, Shame, Shame / upon this house” – the words echo in this spare and simple but beautifully sung piece. “I wrote this song after Shafilea Ahmed’s parents were imprisoned for life for murdering their daughter. In the sleeve notes I haven’t said this as I feel that it could be read in different ways; honour killing, murder of a partner”. These kinds of acts are not confined to any one community.

Moving to the upbeat, Marching Through The Green Grass is a Ward and Hanna arrangement of a song also known as the Soldier Boy or Sailor Boy. Collected in the Appalachians by the folklorists Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles, the song comes from a time long before the birth of the modern army and the advent of combat soldiers of both sexes.“ The recording includes a tune that Stu and I wrote together”. The performance is a feisty, strident comment on soldiering.

Lord I Don’t Want To Die In The Storm is a traditional song, collected in America by Cortez Reece. After struggling to source a tune for this song, Lucy and Stu decided to write their own. The results are a haunting, doleful piece of minimalist Americana.

Lucy’s song melodies are as memorable and engaging as her lyrics. Songs like For The Dead Men, Honey(about pure and natural beauty), The Last Pirouette (a song on the end of the world, based on a poem written by Lucy’s father in 1983), Rites Of Man (a lament for Mother Nature) and Ink (a lyric based on the life of Stuart Shorter and the book written by Alexander Masters Stuart: A Life Backwards), all have melodies that stay with the listener from first play. None more so, though, than Icarus, a languid, dreamy work containing some of Lucy’s most expressive singing, her vocals floating over the ethereal instrumental soundscape. Lucy says, in her matter of fact way “Icarus’s lover is left to drown as he chooses his aspirations over her”.

Lastly, there is Velvet Sky, an anthem, almost symphonic in nature for a piece of music just 4.13 long, with a labyrinthine lyric full of word delights.

Collectively, the songs here showcase Lucy Ward‘s consummate performance and creative songwriting abilities, her genuine and sparkling personality and stunning voice. The new album Single Flame is a shining statement of how far her talent has grown and developed in such a short time.

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Album Review: Phil Doleman & Ian Emmerson – Turn

Turn CDLabel: Sore Thumb Records

Derbyshire based duo, Phil Doleman and Ian Emmerson have been absorbed in music since an early age. Not limited by genre, they have played in everything from metal bands to folk and jazz groups with an array of instruments in their arsenal.

After meeting in 2007, they formed a humorous, ukulele act called The Re-Entrants, where the guys drew upon their rock and popular music roots and performed unlikely but well-known tunes on the ukes. Since then, they’ve developed a different act, which focuses solely on their talents as strong writers and instrumentalists which makes up their new E.P. release.

With all tracks written by the duo Doleman and Emmerson showcase their versatility and musicality, effortlessly switching between styles with the bluegrass-influenced, fast picking of Fetch The Biscuits, Barbara! and the old time, swing sounding The Re-Entrant Rag. Each track is effortlessly arranged bringing drawing upon the light and shade, each track telling a story without words.

As an instrumental record, people may assume it will be for the serious music and ukulele fans; such an assumption would mean missing out. As the rise and popularity of ukulele is ever growing, it is still rare to find players who are able to get past the George Formby covers and really carve out their own sound. It is clear from the first few seconds of listening, these guys are experts.

This record captures two musicians at their finest, with a passion for their instruments seeking to find new ways to bring it to a wider audience.

Long may it continue!

– Charlie Barker

Planned Demonstrations postpone Sheffield’s first Devonshire Market

The following statement has been received from the Big Live Event regarding the cancellation of the Devonshire Market event this Saturday 7th June. The event will fully resume on Saturday 13th July.

June Devonshire Market Postponed Until July 13th to Assist Police and Sheffield City Centre Management manage planned demonstrations.

We have been contacted by the police and Sheffield City Council City Centre Management Team regarding a planned march by the English Defence League to Barkers Pool on Saturday. In addition to this we have also been informed of counter demonstrations planned by opposing citizens also scheduled for Sheffield’s Cultural Quarter. We have been informed these demonstrations are likely to be larger in size than those witnessed last weekend and will be particularly focused around the areas of Barkers Pool, Division Street, and Devonshire Green. It is also our understanding that while every effort is being made to ensure shops and businesses along Division Street remain open, some are taking the independent decision to close.

After working consultation with Sheffield City Council City Centre Management Team, the police, and liaising with our range of multicultural traders based on current intelligence and last weeks demonstrations we have decided to postpone June’s Devonshire Market until Saturday July 13th. The decision to postpone the market has not been taken lightly and in consultation with our traders and insurance provider we have weighted the decision to preserve public the livelihoods of our traders and the future reputation of the market against the potential for increased footfall. Traders have been offered a full refund for their June pitch or the opportunity to move onto our July market.

Devonshire Markets, Sheffield City Centre Management Team, and Sheffield City Council are committed to ensuring the city centre is a vibrant and bustling place to trade. For this reason we are all working together in collaboration towards July’s market which will also see us team up with Sensoria and Our Big Gig to showcase a variety of Sheffield based talent, and celebrate the cities wide range of independent trade maintaining a family friendly, upbeat atmosphere. In the light of June’s postponement we would welcome your support in promotion of July’s market. Please use this facebook link to promote it to your friends and relatives, tweet us @DevonshireMkts, and keep checking our website www.devonshiremarkets.com for regular updates surrounding July’s market and the lively community focused entertainment program we are all working hard to develop for it.

We look forward to July’s extra-special market.

Single Review: Sonic Boom Six – Karma Is A Bitch

Released: 17th June 2013
Label: Xtra Mile Recordings

Karma Is A BitchThe genre-bending Sonic Boom Six are back with their latest single release Karma Is A Bitch and in true SBS style, it doesn’t disappoint.

Following the release of their recent self-titled album, this is the fourth single from it, preceded by the likes of For The Kids of the Multiculture, Keep On Believing and Virus, getting themselves firmly on the Kerrang! Radio playlist and at the forefront of new alternative music.

The five-piece from Manchester have spent over six years touring Europe and Asia and have successfully, self-released three albums before signing with Xtra Mile Recordings in 2012 and working with Peter Miles (The King Blues, Futures, We Are Ocean) for their latest work.

They have proved themselves to be versatile band, who can’t be pigeon-holed into any one specific style, making their sound truly their own, mixing elements of ska, punk, grime, metal and dubstep.

Karma Is A Bitch is no exception with gritty metal guitar riffs, underpinned by a hyperactive drumbeat, with infectious melodic vocals from Leila K and fast-paced urban, rhymes from Barney Boom.

The B-sides are just as quirky, with the smooth sound of A Little Bit of Reggae and a re-worked acoustic version of their single Virus.

Each track couldn’t be more different from one another, yet never sounds disjointed or out of place. It flows effortlessly, showcasing these musicians and writers as a cut above the rest.

– Charlie Barker

Finalists Compete for Final of Yorkshire Unplugged 2013

After a month long search of the nation’s finest acoustic acts, the final of the Yorkshire Unplugged competition, hosted by Carl Malony drew to a close on the 23rd May, having chosen it’s five finalists from the previous week’s semi-final gigs at The Forum in Sheffield.

Now in it’s second year, the competition has attracted nationwide attention bringing in musicians from London, Birmingham, Manchester and around Yorkshire.

Musicians get the chance to perform in weekly semi-final heats, where voting is thrown open to the audience who decide the fate of the contestants, who have a chance of winning a professionally produced music video, studio recording time, a distribution deal, a promotional photoshoot and a main stage performance at a UK music festival. This year the competition’s sponsors included: Big Dog Studios, MusicPort Festival, Higher Rhythm , Sammi Sparke Photography, Rivers Rush and Epiphone Guitars.

Performers Mark Nichols, Kid Conventional, Ian Scholefield, The Broken Saints and Young Peculiar made up the finalists, who each took to the stage to perform four songs of their choice, a mixture of originals and one cover version from each act, to a packed out venue.

Carl Malony with winner Kid Conventional by www.charliebarkerphotography.com

Carl Malony with winner Kid Conventional by http://www.charliebarkerphotography.com

This year the proceedings were judged not only by the audience in a public vote but also by a panel of industry professionals, The Van Susans; a five piece, acoustic, folk-rock band from London with years of touring experience and two albums to their name released on Beatnik Geek Records.

After much deliberation by the audience and the Van Susans, Birmingham’s Kid Conventional was crowned the 2013 winner and took to the stage with host Carl, to thank all who voted, posed for his promotional photographs and left somewhat shocked by his win.

Such a strong lineup was reassuring to see that in a time when live music has so often been replaced with karaoke, nights and blaring discos in city centre venues. Yorkshire Unplugged has proven that original acoustic music is making a revival and new, exciting talent is being recognised for all the right reasons.

Think you have what it takes to perform in the 2014 competition. Go over to www.yorkshireunplugged.com/enter-2014 to apply.

– Charlie Barker

An Indie Market For A Creative City

Devonshire Green

Sheffield-based event management company, Big Live Event are bringing a whole host of family entertainment, independent traders and businesses to the heart of Sheffield, with the Devonshire Market starting on Saturday 8th June from 11am to 6pm.

The city’s vibrant and colourful Devonshire Green will be brought to life with stalls full of independent traders in clothing, accessories, sweet and savoury food and cocktails. Entertainment will be provided by local buskers and live DJs throughout the area, where 8,000 to 12,000 visitors are expected.

Youngsters will be entertained by a bouncy castle, inflatable slide and face painting at the first of this summer’s market events, which continue throughout the rest of the year up to December.

Support local businesses in what will be a new and exciting event for Sheffield City Centre.

For more information and market dates please visit: www.devonshiremarkets.com

– Charlie Barker