February 2019 – Recording with Marvin B Naylor
I've been a fan of Marvin B. Naylor for such a long time that it still seems a bit surreal to be writing this, but I started working with him in September 2018, and we've been busy in the studio ever since, recording new songs for what will be my third album. We're due to make our first live appearance together at EppyFest on 20th July 2019. Marvin, who was once signed to Polydor but has since released five (soon to be six) of his own albums, is an exceptionally gifted songwriter and guitarist who writes his own unique shimmering 12-string psychedelic-pop. He busks in Winchester and has written a very funny book about his adventures with that. I initially got to know him through a mutual love of 12-string guitars, which we both play as our main instrument, but, well, what's wrong with having two people in a duo who both play the same instrument? It makes it much easier to share instruments in the studio. And he lent me that very nice Rickenbacker 360/12.
As of February 2019 we've got two songs completed and three more in the works. While it's too soon to estimate a release date for the album, we are making extremely good progress and I'm really excited by how good it sounds. The first song we worked on was the medieval magical English ballad called the Corpus Christi carol, also known as Down in Yon Forest. It began life with a harp arrangement by me, to which Marvin added twenty guitars, and the final result is wild and shimmering, with a clap of thunder. You can hear the song, Corpus Christi, on the audio page. We then sang harmonies to make a version of the beautiful A Swallow Song, which has exquisite melodies, originally performed by Mimi and Richard Fariña in 1965. I did the 12-string work on this one, playing it on Marvin's guitar, while he worked on a donated home-made slide guitar with a really original sound. The next few songs will be ones we've written ourselves, and those are well on the way.
25th June 2018 – 'Chalkhills EP' released
Chalkhills EP – available now from Bandcamp – click here to purchase or listen.
It's been a long nine years since I released any of my own music. This three-track EP is a return to my solo sound and an exploration of where the future might take me. The dreamy psych-folk vibe is still there, as are my 12-string guitars, but the outlook is perhaps warmer and brighter.
The EP opens with a 16th century madrigal by John Wilbye made from many layered voices. Although I've been true to the original arrangement, my performance is more natural and earthy than you would get from a classical rendition of this kind of song. Personally I feel that madrigals sound best 'au naturel' with a bit of human feeling in them.
The other two songs are my own, rooted as always in the fields and hills of the English landscape.
I would like to thank those who have encouraged me and helped me to bring this to fruition, and Caroline Young who took the latest promo photographs.
30th October 2016 – 'The Spark' released
The Alchymical Muse project Daniel and I have been hoarding for the last few years is ready to be unleashed into the cosmos as a limited edition release. The album is called The Spark. You can find out more about it and listen to sample tracks here.
Although the album has taken a long time to see the light of day, the Alchymical Muse material came together quite spontaneously in a very short space of time, mostly recorded in 2009 with only Green Man being added later in 2012. It began when I drafted him in to work on my second album. We ended up with half an album's worth of material in the space of a few weeks, which was quite separate from the other work we were doing and became a new project. The most significant factor in this new material was our combined voices.
Daniel is an innovative cellist and gets a range of melodic and percussive sounds out of the cello which I never imagined was possible. He also plays classical (i.e. nylon-stringed) guitar in a similarly holistic way and using exquisite modal scales. Throw my harp and 12-string guitar into the mix along with piano and keyboards (which we both play) and we had a sonic palette which enabled us to wander wherever our imagination took us. Every song was approached differently as a unique piece in its own right and there were no rules.
The Alchymical Muse was the first song we made on the project, so we eventually named ourselves after the song.