Whopping understatement alert: folk music has never been the kindest genre to women. All those virgins led down to rivers by rogues to be deflowered and drowned; so many girls and mothers punished horribly, even fatally, for throwaway reasons. Hearing these songs revisited regularly reminds folk-lovers of history’s grimness, of course, but sometimes it can feel like the aural equivalent of watching another TV drama lingering on a beautiful dead body.
In 2018, however, modern folk feels much more woke, to use a fashionable phrase. Take the debut album by Brighton-based duo Hickory Signals – married couple Laura Ward and Adam Ronchetti – which skilfully ploughs this rich furrow. An album mixing traditional songs with banjo and string-framed originals, it begins with a song about the reclusive life of 20th-century English poet Rosemary Tonks, a “grieving widow’s only child” who “rages for the truth”. It takes in songs about refugees (Kana), the wisdom of young women (Two Girls) and F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife (Zelda), joyfully “dancing alone” when everyone has left her. It finishes with a gorgeous take on the traditional Bushes and Briars, about a woman who wants to show her lover “boldness”, despite knowing what might happen if she does.
Turn to Fray was made to explore the theme of people unravelling, something Ward and Ronchetti understand well given their day jobs. Ward works with women and families affected by substance abuse and has volunteered with refugees; Ronchetti teaches young adults with learning disabilities.Continue reading...
Fri Nov 16 10:10:58 CET 2018