Anthemic Art-Folk that crosses many boundaries
Sometimes, late at night I hanker for songs so deep, dark and insightful it hurts; you know what I mean, don’t you? It’s been a long, hard day, everyone else is tucked up in bed, the lights are down to a flickering low and you are onto your third or fourth glass of something ‘relaxing;’ after scouring your music collection you get to Leonard Cohen, Nico or perhaps the good old English Folk singers like Nick Drake or John Martyn and only they can be a suitable soundtrack for you to wallow in your own misery.
Let me introduce you to a new singer who we can add to that melancholic list; ladies and gentlemen I give you….Lucy Ward.
As I’ve said before some records can only be listened to at certain times of the day; who can listen to the Beach Boys after the sun hoes down? And so we have it here; I’d tried several times to listen to Single Flame but couldn’t get a handle on it; although I felt it could really be special; and I was right.
The album opens with an intense atmospheric folk inspired song, that wouldn’t have been out of place on a Lindsay Anderson film soundtrack, entitled I Cannot Say/I Will Not Speak and it references both Melanie Safka and Robert Zimmerman as well as having a mantra like chorus.
What sounds suspiciously like a sitar makes an appearance in Honey; as Lucy Ward’s soft and weathered voice barely gets beyond a whisper on a beautiful song.
Suddenly; on The Last Pirouette things take a dramatic left turn with a bold, quintessentially English Folk song; sung with a flat Northern annunciation, that harks back to Sandy Denny and Fairport Convention in their heyday.
The Consequence is one of the most interesting songs on the album with a back story that will make it a rallying call for many women around the world. The song opens with the cry Shame, Shame, Shame/Upon This House/Dishonour and Shame and continues with some exquisite ethereal harmonies as Lucy takes on the roll of a young Indian woman who refused to take part in an arranged marriage and was subsequently murdered by her parents. It will send a shiver down the spine of everyone who hears it.
Velvet Sky sounds wonderful here; as the playing keeps building up to a crescendo on the choruses giving it all the hallmarks of being a live favourite when Ward takes the album on the road.
As with all British Folk singer-songwriters there always has to be a song or two about War and preferably the Great War 1914-18 as it threw up the strongest imagery for inquisitive minds. Here we get two; Marching Through the Green Grasswhich has an accordion leading a merry tune that the Mumfords would be proud of and Single Flame ends with the first song Ward ever wrote; Shellback written in memory of her Grandfather and all the other men who marched away thinking they were doing a great deed for their respective countries but often came back broken in 100 different ways.
I think we’ve unearthed a rare talent in Lucy Ward and with traditional Folk music becoming popular again I don’t think this will be the last you hear of her.
Navigator Records NAV083P