This week, a few more songs from the extraordinary folk tradition of the British Isles:
Above: David Gibb & Elly Lucas, a folk duo out of Derbyshire in the English Midlands, peform a jazz-inflected version of "The Blacksmith." It comes from their 2012 album, Old Chairs to Mend (which also contains charming original songs like this one).
Below: Pilgrims Way, a trio from the northwest of England, performs "The Handweaver and the Factory Maid." The song comes from their 2011 debut album, Wayside Courtesies.
Next: Jim Moray, based in Bristol here in the southwest of England, performing "Lord Douglas," a variant of the Child Ballad "Earl Brand." The song comes from his fifth album, Skulk. The album's gorgeous cover photograph is above.
I confess I've been on the fence about Moray's music in the past, which mixes folk, rock, pop, and electronica -- but he's completely won me over now with Skulk, in which the traditional roots of the music are foregrounded a bit more. And lordy, what a beautiful voice he has for folk material. The album's name, says Moray, comes from the collective noun for foxes, inspired by fox legends and lore. (For more of his music this morning, go here.)
And last (because what could possibly follow this?): Sam Lee's rendition of "The Ballad of George Collins," from his 2012 album Ground of Its Own. It's a great song from a great, great album -- but this one gets my vote as the wackiest damn video of the year. Wonderful, and thoroughly magical, but truly wacky too. See if you don't agree.
Lee, who comes from "a Jewish family of artists in Tufnell Park, north London," collected many of the songs he performs from Britian's Romany Gypsy community. There's a fascinating article about him on The Guardian's site here, which I highly recommend. How I'd love to have a long natter with this lad...preferably under the stars beside a warm campfire, with a bottle of good single malt whiskey to hand....