Today's first tune, on this May morning so early, is a Flemish song called "The Maying Song" -- performed by the English folk musician Bella Hardy, with Ian Stephenson and Chris Sherburn. (Ignore the obnoxious advertisement at the video's start -- it goes away soon!)
Hardy, who is from the Peak District in Derbyshire, has five fine albums to date. This is a performance from 2008, because there aren't many good Hardy videos available, alas. If you'd like to hear a bit more of her music, try "The Driving of the Deer," from last year's CD, The Dark Peak and the White. And I particularly recommend her latest album, Battleplan, in which "traditional ballads are re-imagined from a female perspective, and personal experiences are reflected against fairy tales and folklore."
Next: another "roving out" song, but a bawdier version this time, sung by Kathryn Roberts. You may remember Roberts from her younger days, when she recorded a lovely debut CD with Kate Rusby. Now she's teamed up with her husband Sean Lakeman (Seth's brother), performing both original and traditional material. They've released three albums (1, 2, and Hidden People), and all of them are good.
Below: Kathryn Roberts again, solo this time, performing her "Ballad of Andy Jacobs" -- a sad and beautiful song about the miners' strikes under Thatcher, inspired by her childhood in a Yorkshire mining town. (She talks about this briefly at the end of the video.) This one is timely too, with Britain still reeling from Thatcher's divisive funeral.
Below, Kris Drever, with another poignant song about another tragic time in the UK's history: "The Poorest Company," about the Highland clearances. Drever, who is from the Orkney Isles of Scotland, has played with Kate Rusby, Eddi Reader, Julie Fowlis, and is one of the founding members of Lau. Here, he's performing at Celtic Connections in Glasgow, with Roddy Woomble, John McCusker, and Heidi Talbot. Although I like his CDs with Lau the best (they're just astonishingly good), his solo albums Black Water and Mark the Hard Earth are also very fine, as is Before the Ruin with Woomble and McCusker.
I was going to stop there, but let's end on a more hopeful note...Below: "Start it all Over Again," an old Battlefield Band song exquisitely performed by Irish singer Heidi Talbot -- backed up by her husband, Scottish fiddler John McCusker, and Boo Hewerdine. Talbot, formerly of Cherish the Ladies, has released five solo albums, of which I especially like the latest, Angel Without Wings.
If you stutter or stumble, if dreams start to crumble
I'll pick up the pieces of pain.
I will cradle you, cry with you, pray that tonight we'll just
start it all over again...