Georgia Fields Announces Mini-Album Afloat, Adrift with The Andromeda String Quartet

Georgia Fields
Image Courtesy of Georgia Fields

Melbourne based alt-pop singer Georgia Fields has just announced a very special chamber-folk project and mini-album Afloat, Adrift.

Fields collabortaed with The Andromeda String Quartet – made up of Natasha Conrau (violin), Ruby Paskas (violin), Susanna Ling (viola) and Charlotte Jacke (cello) – to record Afloat, Adrift live at the Newmarket Studios in just five hours. The result is a stunning, sumptuous and emotional work.

“It was such a thrill to record live,” Georgia Fields explains. “There is that added pressure to get it right… but inversely there is a special kind of magic that materialises when you have a group of people assembled in the one place, listening and reacting and resonating together in real time, dancing ever so gently within the notes.”

To give you a taste of Afloat, Adrift Georgia Fields and The Andromeda String Quartet performed “From This Height” at Sofar Melbourne – watch the live video here:

Afloat, Adrift is due for release on the 10th November. Georgia Fields and The Andromeda String Quartet will be launching Afloat, Adrift at Kew Courthouse in Melbourne, High Tea in Sydney and then at the Theatre Royal in Castlemaine – the full list of dates are below:

Saturday 11th November – Kew Court House, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 16th November – High Tea, Sydney, NSW
Sunday 26th November – The Theatre Royal, Castlemaine, VIC

Listen to the New Patrick James Single “Lay It Down”

Patrick James
Image Courtesy of Patrick James

Sydney based singer-songwriter Patrick James makes a welcome return this week with the release of his new single “Lay It Down”.

The track sees a departure from Patrick James’ usual folk-pop songs and instead embraces a bombastic, 80s sound reminiscent of Phil Collins era Genesis. This is our first taste of new Patrick James music since his 2015 album Outlier.

“Throughout the entire writing and recording of the song I didn’t pick up the acoustic guitar once, which was strange at first but ultimately gave a new feel and vibe to the music. It’s bigger and bolder,” Patrick James explained.

Listen to “Lay It Down” here:

Along with the new single Patrick James has announced two rare live shows in Sydney and Melbourne – check out the full list if dates below:

Friday 15th September – Leadbelly, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 23rd September – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC

Watch the New Ed Sheeran Video “Galway Girl”

Ed Sheeran
Image Courtesy of Ed Sheeran

Yes you’re reading that correctly – we’re posting about the new Ed Sheeran video for his trad-pop track “Galway Girl”. After we posted about why this song is good for folk music we couldn’t really ignore the video. Plus it has a pretty cool cameo from Beoga.

So enjoy some pop music with just a little trad thrown in:

Ed Sheeran and Beoga: Pop’s Latest Flirtation with Trad Music

Ed Sheeran
Image Courtesy of Ed Sheeran

A couple of weeks ago Ed Sheeran cemented his status as the biggest male popstar on the planet with the release of his smash hit new album ÷ (pronounced Divide).

If you follow the trad music or Irish music press you’ll know that for at least two of the tracks on ÷ Sheeran collaborated with Northern Irish trad group Beoga.

The first of these tracks, “Galway Girl” (not the Steve Earle track of the same name), was actually inspired by Beoga’s fiddle player Niamh Dunne and features their tune “Minute 5” over the chorus. The lyrics of “Galway Girl” are peppered with trad references (this may be the first number one track to reference Irish song “Carrickfergus”) and Dunne gushed about Sheeran’s love of “Planxty, The Chiefains and … Irish music” in recent interviews.

The second track on ÷ with a piece of Beoga trad is “Nancy Mulligan”, inspired by the story of Sheeran’s Irish grandparents. The track has more trad feel than “Galway Girl” and even features a bit of an Irish-pub-like-singalong during the lead break.

“Galway Girl” was released as a single on St Patrick’s Day and hit the top 10 in a bunch of countries. In an interview with The Guardian Sheeran said that he had to fight to keep the “folk” songs on the album.

“They were really, really against “Galway Girl”, because apparently folk music isn’t cool,” Ed Sheeran explained. “But there’s 400 million people in the world that say they’re Irish, even if they’re not Irish. You meet them in America all the time: “I’m a quarter Irish and I’m from Donegal.” And those type of people are going to fucking love it. My argument was always: well, the Corrs sold 20 million records. The label would say, “Oh the Corrs, that was years ago,” but who’s tried it since the Corrs? There’s a huge gap in the market, and I promise you that in two years’ time there will be a big folk band that comes up that’s pop, and that will happen as a result of labels being like: “Oh shit, if he can put a fiddle and uilleann pipe on it, then we can try it as well”.”

As Sheeran points out trad music in pop music isn’t new. The Corrs practically owned the folk-pop genre in the late 90s and early 2000s. B*Witched 1998 hit “C’est la Vie” was has an Irish whistle solo played over DJ scratching. Even the oft-criticised-for-not-being-real-folk-music Mumford and Sons kick off their track “Roll Away Your Stone” with the Irish trad fiddle tune “Merrily Kissed the Quaker”.

Trad purists will no doubt look down there nose at Ed Sheeran’s folky offerings on ÷, the same way they have with other pop crossover songs over the years. Some of that will be justified – in reality “Galway Girl” is not a great song despite Beoga’s influence – but much of this will be a knee jerk reaction to a perceived popularisation of the tradition.

In truth having an artist of Ed Sheeran’s stature declare his love for Irish trad music can only have upside for the genre.

Think of Sheeran as a trad gateway drug. For many of his fans “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” will be their first exposure to this kind of music and even if only a small percentage follow the influences of the songs back to Planxty, The Dubliners, The Chieftains and beyond, that’s still a bunch of music fans that may never have discovered this music otherwise.

While trad may have a reputation in the wider community as twee or old fashioned those “in the know” know it’s a vibrant genre with a bunch of really exciting young artists coming up through the ranks. If you’ve ever caught a set from Trouble In The Kitchen, Tolka, Sásta or any of the other amazing local trad bands around the country you’ll know how much their music can capture your attention, can fill you up and most importantly can make you want to dance.

The best case scenario is the local and international trad scene will see a spike in activity and interest thanks to Sheeran’s flirtation with the genre and that can only be positive. Every fan who clicks a “like” button on social media, watches a Youtube video, comes to a gig or session featuring traditional music because they’re new favourite song is “Galway Girl” is a new part of our community.

So when you hear “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” blaring on a pop radio station or out of your kid’s Spotify account take a moment to recognise that this could be the first step on the trad music journey for a new fan. That’s got to make you happy.

Kate Miller-Heidke Announces The Best Of: Act One

Image Courtesy of Kate Miller-Heidke

Kate Miller-Heidke is one of those artists who has managed to straddle folk, pop and indie genres and become one of the most beloved singer-songwriters in the country.

On the 2nd December Kate Miller-Heidke will be releasing her retrospective album The Best Of: Act One featuring tracks from throughout her career.

Check out the track listing and video for the single “You’ve Underestimated Me, Dude” here:

Disc One:
1. Space They Cannot Touch
2. Words
3. Mama
4. Little Adam
5. Can’t Shake It
6. Caught In The Crowd
7. The Last Day On Earth
8. Are You Fucking Kidding Me?
9. Walking On A Dream
10. Ride This Feeling
11. Sarah
12. I’ll Change Your Mind
13. The Tiger Inside Will Eat The Child
14. O Vertigo!
15. Share Your Air ft. Passenger
16. Drama ft. Drapht
17. Sing To Me (Denzal Park Mix)
18. I’m Growing A Beard Downstairs For Christmas ft. The Beards
19. You’ve Underestimated Me, Dude
20. Where? with Iain Grandage

Disc Two: Rarities, Covers and Live Versions
1. Dreams/I Love You
2. Australian Idol
3. Southern Cross Tattoo *
4. White Wine In The Sun
5. Hey Little Girl (Live)
6. Love Is A Stranger (Live)
7. Hornets (Live)
8. God’s Gift To Women (Live)
9. The Devil Wears A Suit (Live)
10. Humiliation (Live)
11. In The Dark (Live)
12. Bliss (Live)
13. Yours Was The Body (Live)
14. O Vertigo! (Live)
15. Sarah (Live)
16. Can’t Shake It (Live)
17. Elysian Fields (Live with the TSO)

Kate Miller-Heidke will be heading out on tour at gthe beginning of next year performing a bunch of shows with orchestras around the country. The full list of dates are here:

Saturday 28th January – Melbourne Exhibition & Convention Centre, Melbourne, VIC
Friday 10th March – QPAC, Brisbane, QLD
Friday 24th March – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 25th March – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW
Friday 31st March – Perth Concert Hall, Perth, WA
Friday 7th April – Canberra Theatre, Canberra, ACT
Tuesday 11th April Federation Concery Hall, Hobart, TAS

Watch the New Emmy The Great Video “Algorithm”

Emmy The Great
Image Courtesy of Emmy The Great

Emmy The Great released her new album Second Love last week and with that came her brand new video “Algorithm”. Now we know it’s been a long while since Emmy The Great released anything that could be called “folk music” but we love everything she does (and there’s a decent amount of acoustic guitar in this track).

Check out the video for “Algorithm” below:

Listen to the New Pocket Fox Single “Kingdom Come”

Pocket Fox
Image Courtesy of Pocket Fox

Pocket Fox are an indie-folk group from Canberra who are producing some really sweet pop music at the moment.

The band will be launching their new album The Brightest Light on the 6th February and we thought we’d share their brand new single “Kingdom Come” below:

To celebrate the release of The Brightest Light Pocket Fox have announced an album launch at the Gorman Arts Centre on the 6th February as well as some other east coast dates before an appearance at The National Folk Festival. Check out all the dates below:

Saturday 6th February – Gorman Arts Centre, Canberra, ACT
Saturday 13th February – White Eagle Polish Club, Canberra, ACT
Friday 19th February – Gasoline Pony, Sydney, NSW
Saturday 27th February – Wesley Anne, Melbourne, VIC
Thursday 24th to Monday 28th March – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT

Katie Wighton Announces EP Launch Show

Katie Wighton
Image Courtesy of Katie Wighton

Sydney singer-songwriter Katie Wighton has announced plans to released her brand new EP OH-DARK-HOURS very soon, with a launch show show in Sydney at the end of the month.

Wighton might be known to Timber and Steel readers as one quarter of All Our Exes Live in Texas, but you may not know she’s also an amazing solo singer-songwriter mixing her folk and country influences with a modern pop sensibility.

OH-DARK-HOURS will be launched at Brighton Up Bar on Friday 28th August. For more information check out the official Facebook event here. And also make sure you head over to Unearthed to listen to her new single “Little Dove”.

Joy Williams (The Civil Wars) Releases New Solo Single “Woman (Oh Mama)”

Joy Williams
Image Courtesy of Joy Williams

After The Civil Wars disbanded last year the question on everyone’s lips was what would the individual members do next. And it looks like that question has been answered for Joy Williams who has just released her new solo single “Woman (Oh Mama)”. The track is an afro-infused indie-pop gem with Williams’ voice front and centre – a long way from the lonesome country of The Civil Wars. It is taken from her upcoming solo album Venus which is due for release at some point this year.

Listen to “Woman (Oh Mama)” below:

Review: Emmy The Great, S

Emmy The Great
Image Courtesy of Emmy The Great

So I guess our little folk singer has really grown up.

Well to be honest Emmy The Great has been shedding her folk-singer skin ever since the release of her 2011 album Virtue, but with her new EP S she’s well and truly left folk behind in favour of pop music. And not just any pop music – 80s synth-pop to be exact.

Which may lead you to question why we’re reviewing S in the first place. Well the main reason is deep in the heart of the EP’s four tracks I can still hear the same singer-songwriter strumming away on her guitar that I fell in love with five years ago. So let’s break this down track by track shall we?

“Swimming Pool”: The first single from the EP and probably the closest track to anything from Virtue, “Swimming Pool” showcases Emmy The Great’s delicate vocals over muted, retro production. It’s very easy to hear the influence of artists like Lana Del Rey and Lorde on the track with the minimalist rhythm section, glissando harps and generous reverb. I love the chorus in this track where the male voice (courtesy of Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming) adds a complimentary bass to Emmy The Great’s melodies. One of my favourite tracks from her in a long time.

“Social Halo”: The looping and sampling at the start of this track actually gives way to the kind of simple fingerpicking typical of early Emmy The Great tracks – only this time on an electric guitar. The finger-picking continues the rest of the track but is overshadowed by the production – sweeping eighties rock guitar, ambient loops and restrained synth base. Emmy The Great’s lyrics are still front and centre on this track and it makes me wonder if the track is written about anyone in particular – who’s social halo is Emmy referring to? And does she even want to be there in the first place?

“Solar Panels”: And so the transformation into 80s synth-pop princess is complete. “Solar Panels” ignores any pretense of lyrical complexity and dives straight into thumping base, repetitive verses and choruses and choppy synth. There’s no folk singer here – this is pure dancefloor baiting pop. All I can picture is fluro when I hear this song

“Somerset (I Can’t Get Over)”: The synth-pop trend continues on “Somerset (I Can’t Get Over)”, albeit in a more subdued fashion. The track is an ode to an ex-lover who Emmy The Great pleads with “please don’t get over me”. There’s something almost broadway about the lyrics and melody of this track – you could imagine it being slotted into a musical complete with jazzy big band score and dance solo over the “da da da” break. But obviously it’s not a broadway number – it’s a pop song and it’s a wonderful way to wrap up the EP.

With all the synth-pop in S maybe it’s time for Timber and Steel to well and truly break up with Emmy The Great, accept the fact that she’s not the acoustic folk singer she once was. But I’m still going to buy this EP and I’m still going to be the first to geek out every time she releases something new. Because I can’t just get over Emmy The Great.

S from Emmy The Great is available online now via Rough Trade. You can also stream the EP on Rookie Mag here.

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: