I'm back from my travels, back to the studio, back in the good green hills of Chagford...and listening to ballads, old and new, on this quiet May morning.
Above: "Lark in the Clear Air," a traditional Irish song performed by Scottish folk musician Karine Polwart. Raised in Stirlingshire (between the lowlands and the highlands), she's now based in Edinburgh.
Below: "All on a Summer's Evening," from Polwart's new album, A Pocket of Wind Resistance (with composer and sound designer Pippa Murphy). The song, she says, is "rooted in the ecology and history of my local heather moor by Fala Flow, Midlothian, south of Edinburgh. All on a Summer's Evening rests upon the traditional song Skippin Barfit Through the Heather. It's an introduction to the wide magical space of the moor, and to the story of a local couple, Will and Roberta Sime, which threads through the album."
Above: "The Driving of the Deer" (audio only), performed by Bella Hardy, a folk musician from the Peak District of Derbyshire. The song is about Sir William Peveril the Younger, a Norman knight reputed to be the grandson of William the Conqueror. (For the full story, go here.) Hardy found it in a 19th century collection, The Songs and Ballads of Derbyshire, and recorded her version on her fourth album, The Dark Peak and the Light (2014).
Below: "The Herring Girl," a song about an English girl who finds work as a herring packer in the Hebrides. It appeared on Hardy's third album, Songs Lost & Stolen (2011), featuring new ballads inspired by the old.
Above: "Geordie" (Child Ballad #209), performed by American folk musician Lindsay Straw, raised in Montana and now based in Boston. The song can be found on her second album, The Fairest Flower of Womankind (2017).