'Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences'

Posts Tagged ‘Natalie Merchant

Intercontinental Idols – this top 5 would certainly a talent competition make

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I wonder whether the zany allure of Zooey Deschanel would win her hearts and a hypothetical place, on one of the many and varied TV talent shows of today? Surely her perfect musical pairing with M. Ward (Matthew Stephen Ward) would secure her a place through to the live shows, where we could become smitten with her beguiling glances and addicted to the indie angst that her voice exudes. I’m pretty certain that Deschanel would never and will never have to venture down the reality show route in any case, not least due to the success of her aforementioned band of two; She & Him.


After collaborating with Gary Lightbody et al on supergroup Tired Pony‘s debut album, She & Him return with a festive offering for their quirky Folk followers. ‘A Very She & Him Christmas’ was released on October 24th, 2011 in the US and is also available to purchase online. The 12-track covers record features such Christmas classics as ‘The Christmas Song’, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ and ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’, all performed with their trademark subtle wit and wonder. This record would be the perfect backdrop to your Yuletide merriment; light and carefree on the build-up, fast-paced fun when you hit your festive social stride, then rejoicefully reflective in its resolve.

It was Snow Patrol lead singer, Gary Lightbody, that gave me the title inspiration for this piece; I’ve seen the Irishman in somewhat of a deity capacity for several years now. I recently had a conversation about idols: what constitutes and typifies an idol, what makes someone an idol to one and a nobody to another and what would I actually say to one of my idols? For me, an idol is someone that I respect, who is possessing of qualities which I admire and aspire to have and typically, someone who I would be completely dumbfounded to meet in person. Lightbody encompasses all of the above in my case: he’s creative, intelligent, quick-witted, unassuming and Irish (a common theme in my idol rule book)…need there be any further criteria?!


Snow Patrol’s latest 14-track record, ‘Fallen Empires’ was released earlier this month and is currently continuing to reside in the top ten of the UK album charts.  The second single to be released from the album is ‘This Isn’t Everything You Are’ and it would be fair to say that I am rather taken with it. It is unequivocally Snow Patrol and Lightbody at their very best. Some of my best memories of a live show have been at Snow Patrol headline gigs and festival slots. The emotion of the lyrics and power of the band’s performance combine to produce something quite special. I can’t wait to hear the tracks from ‘Fallen Empires’ performed live early next year.

I have always preferred Marina & the Diamonds to Florence and the Machine; I find Marina’s voice more pleasing to hear, warmer and more emotive somehow. I can sense her passion when she performs, whereas I’ve always found the more abstract Welch to be trying that little bit too hard. A personal deconstruction, perhaps. Marina releases her second album in early 2012, which has been given the title, ‘Electra Heart.’ A demo has recently been released on her official website of a new single; ‘Starring Role.’ The follow-up to ‘Radioactive’; this track is perhaps more typically pop than her usual electro-pop offerings and I like it. I like it a lot.


I bought Lisa Hannigan‘s second album, ‘Passenger’ a couple of weeks ago and have been listening to it every day since. I have a couple of favourites, of which ‘Paper House’ is definitely one. I’ve always dreamt of moving to Dublin, living in an apartment and taking autumnal walks around Trinity College – perhaps one day I’ll get there, but for now I’m content to listen to Hannigan’s tale of similar surroundings and pursuits. If she is also looking for a lodger in said paper house, I am most interested…have ferry fare, will travel.


You will probably be familiar with the work of Christina Perri courtesy of previously mentioned tv talent shows; her hit single ‘Jar Of Hearts’ has been covered on both sides of the Atlantic recently. Perri is a 25-year old singer songwriter from Philadelphia who has only relatively recently rose to fame in the US, on the back of the single being aired on various hit shows on the Fox network. Perri released her debut album, ‘Lovestrong’ in May 2011 and has been compared to Folk favourite, Natalie Merchant.


Perri wrote a song for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn official soundtrack, entitled ‘A Thousand Years.’ The track doesn’t appear on ‘Lovestrong’  but gives listeners a good idea of ‘la douleur exquise’ to expect from Perri’s album of love and heartbreak. I think the music world will be seeing a lot more of Perri in the years to come.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

November 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Bluegrass, The Beverly Hillbillies and Ghost Town Showdown

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The Clampetts: Jed, Granny, Elly May and Jethro

Some of my favourite programmes as a child were based on very similar premises; an oddball family or main character, whose crazy, unpredictable antics provided the laughs but whose heart was always in the right place; characters such as Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy, Samantha Stephens in Bewitched and Elly May in The Beverly Hillbillies. How I longed to be a Clampett and ride around on their truck with Granny beside me, hollering at passers-by and complaining to Jed that she needs more ammo in her shotgun! 

It was the very same dearly beloved American sitcom that sprung to mind when I first heard Bluegrass music recently. Whilst reviewing the Cambridge Folk Festival this year, I came across a British Bluegrass outfit named Ghost Town Showdown, who were not only champion geezers but highly accomplished and highly exciting musicians. 

Admittedly, I didn’t have a vast knowledge of Bluegrass music before this point; being more familiar with Irish traditional/roots music and other more, shall we say, commercial genres; so, being the good student that I am, I decided to do a bit of research when I got home and was most surprised at my findings. Bluegrass actually has roots in English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh traditional music and was inspired by, amongst others, the music of immigrants from the UK and Ireland; I had always assumed that bluegrass hailed from the desert plains of mid-West America. 

I’ve always been impressed by vocal harmonies and I love the sound of acoustic stringed instruments such as the mandolin, double bass and fiddle; so not surprisingly I found myself foot-tapping away to Ghost Town Showdown’s tracks including,  ‘Ball and Chain’, ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ and ‘Pretty Girl Blues.’  I spoke to brothers Colin (double bass/vocals) and Phil Attrill (vocals/guitar/harmonica) after the Festival about their influences, where they see themselves in a couple of years time and why gig-goers should catch one of their shows: 


Why Bluegrass? 

Colin: A few years ago we saw Chatham County Line play Polar Central in Brighton. Phil and I used to be in indie band The Know and we found it tough to get gigs as there was so much competition. But we love harmonies and our voices and songwriting seemed to suit the bluegrass style far more. 

Phil: Bluegrass is a type of music that you can’t help but enjoy playing. The film ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’ brought bluegrass music into the mainstream, and attracted a new audience of people who didn’t know they liked that sort of music.

Why should a gig-goer catch a Ghost Town Showdown show? 

Colin: We are all about the live performance. Bluegrass music loses something when it gets put onto a CD. Its charm and appeal lies in the energy and exuberance of a band playing live. That’s particularly the case with GTS, as we love doing the three-part harmonies and a bit of banter with the audience! 

Phil: We give it our all at every live performance so you definitely get your money’s worth at a GTS show. We’re not ‘strictly bluegrass’ either so you can see a range of influences in our songs, from folk to rock to country to pop. 

Where do you see the band in a couple of years time? 

Colin: The Club Tent or Stage 2 Tent at the Cambridge Folk Festival! 

Phil: Playing a slot on ‘Later With Jools Holland’, between Kings of Leon and Dizzee Rascal.

Finally, what did you particularly enjoy about the Cambridge Folk Festival? 

Colin: Simon (Roberts; mandolin/vocals) particularly enjoyed Carolina Chocolate Drops (although Phil and I missed them as we wanted to see the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, who were performing at the same time). I enjoyed Jackie Oates’ first set at Stage 2 and Cocos Lovers outside the MOJO tent. I thought that the best song of the weekend was Natalie Merchant‘s ‘Isabel’. 

Phil: Colin mentioned the music that we enjoyed, but I also really enjoyed the laid-back atmosphere of the whole festival and the fact that people would just strike up conversations when you’d least expect it.

I would definitely agree with Colin with regards to the band’s skills with three-part harmonies and also with Phil in that their music does touch upon contrasting, yet complimentary influences. In short, I think that there is a little something for everyone with this band, even if you’ve never heard nor thought that you’d like to hear bluegrass music.  

If you’d like to hear more from the guys and I would highly recommend that you do, their debut EP is available to purchase via their official website, and their MySpace, The band also has a few shows coming up, mainly concentrated in the South East of the country, but who knows, they might just wind up around your area sometime soon. Here’s hoping y’all!

"Y'all come back now, ya hear?"

Cambridge Folk Festival 2010 – review

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Well 5,000 words and a couple of very late nights later, and my review of the 2010 Co-operative Cambridge Folk Festival is finally completed.

I wanted to write the review in narrative form, as it happened, so as to give the best impression of what future festival-goers might expect. I do find it difficult to write objectively at times; especially as I only tend to go to gigs and shows of artists which I really like; so something would have to go terribly wrong for me not to enjoy them! I genuinely enjoyed every minute of the festival though and can’t wait for next year. I’d like to learn more about the history of folk music; an aim which my current boss found quite amusing yesterday, the conversation going as thus:

Me: “…so I didn’t know a lot of the songs that were performed, you know, the traditional pieces, but I just figured that I’d catch a few words and then Google it…”

Peter: “…you figured you’d Google pieces of music that have been studied for thousands of years; that academics have travelled far and wide and researched extensively to find the origination and authorship of…you figured you’d just…Google it?!”


At that point he looked slightly perturbed, turned with his tea and laughed as he went.

The link to my review for eFestivals can be found below, please take a look and let me know what you think. It’s divided in to three parts; I wrote a lot!

Countdown to Cambridge Folk Festival 2010

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I am heading to Cambridge Folk Festival to review this year and I can’t wait. With Irish ancestry, I suppose a love of live music, particularly folk, was to be expected; but it’s only been the past couple of years that I’ve really found this genre to be my writing niche.

Folk music has been described as ‘the music of the people’ due to its geographical, historical and cultural references. The genre has a universal, yet personal appeal.  I love the emotions that folk music conveys and am yet to find a sub-genre which I don’t find addictive and uplifting; whether that be American Bluegrass, Celtic Traditional or Yorkshire Roots. I like the idea that a crowd can be watching the same performer, yet they are being taken on a completely different journey; being reminded of their childhood, where they came from, family holidays growing up, their youth and the list goes on.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing the following artists at Cambridge this year: Natalie Merchant, Johnny Flynn and the Sussex Wit, The Unthanks and Stornoway. I have added some You Tube links below to show you why. I keep praying that Lisa Hannigan, Mumford and Sons and Noah and the Whale suddenly find a spare day in their hectic diaries to come along…one can but dream.

When my family and I visit Ireland each year (Killarney, Co Kerry), we go to a great live music and eating venue called The Danny Mann. It is really popular and gets packed out every night. The food is delicious (particularly the Kenmare Salmon with chilli and lime) and the live music is always brilliant. We have had many a great night here. If you find yourself in the area, please take my recommendation and pop along. You won’t be disappointed.

The Danny Mann, Killarney, County Kerry

So if you’re heading to Cambridge this July, I hope you have a great festival. I’ll be the girl with the notepad, the dictaphone and the pint of Bulmers trying to master the fine art of the harmonica in the music workshop tent.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

May 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm

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