Touring might have been curtailed but Ben Walker’s new instrumental EP The Rakes of Adair takes the listener on a charming trip from England to Ireland and back again with five tunes first set down in the 1700s or earlier.
Reviewers of Ben’s 2019 debut solo album Echo remarked on ‘hauntology reminiscent of Gavin Bryars’ (The Guardian), calling it ‘a profound statement connecting past and present’ (fRoots). With this new record Ben picks up an earlier thread.
His 2018 EP The Fox on the Downs explored eighteenth century English tunes following his Lost Tunes EFDSS residency with Leveret’s Rob Harbron at Cecil Sharp House. Reviewers pronounced it ‘jaw-dropping’ (Folk Radio UK), and ‘almost obscenely good’ (Fatea).
The second EP in what looks set to become a series exploring this particular era, The Rakes of Adair whisks us back three hundred years through deceptively simple, exquisite fingerstyle guitar, pure pleasure to hear.
Ben says: ‘ I’m still fascinated by what was happening in the eighteenth century and how people started to value these old tunes and write them down for us to find. I spend a lot of time with English music but I often play a couple of Irish tunes at gigs just because they’re so much fun to play – not being on the road I’ve finally had time to record a few! Some of them made their way across the sea and back again. When you play in Ireland you feel the music very close to the surface, every pub feels on the cusp of a session; there’s usually a story behind the tune, too. Hopefully we can all enjoy live music together again soon.
All proceeds from this record will go to Macmillan Cancer Support. A very dear friend of mine lost her life to cancer last year so this is something I wanted to do to remember her.’
The Rakes of Adair will be released on Folkroom Records as a limited edition CD on November 6th 2020.
When Ben Walker and Kirsty Merryn announced a joint project earlier this year little did they know it was the last time they would see each other for months on end. The impact of coronavirus on folk music has been huge – a year of cancelled gigs and empty venues, without even the solace of getting together to play. With a handful of demos recorded before lockdown and the future for performing artists uncertain, Ben and Kirsty regretfully put the EP launch and tour for Life and the Land on hold. They spent the time researching, writing, sharing and swapping from home until they could record together again.
Westlin Winds offers a first taste of the EP, with Spring 2021 dates announced soon – all being well.
As Kirsty says: ‘Westlin Winds is about that moment at the height of summer where nature overflows with abundance. In our version we wanted to reflect on humanity’s relationship with nature in 2020, how much we take with little regard for the consequences. Life and the Land was always meant to be about celebrating the fruits of a year’s struggle – I’m not sure we realised quite how apt that was going to be! We really wanted to have something to show for harvest time. It’s been frustrating not to be able to tour, we’re so looking forward to playing these songs for people. It’ll be worth the wait.’
Ben adds ‘This song is from a Robbie Burns poem he called Song Composed in August – despite our best laid plans that’s when we ended up recording it! The way we’ve done it was inspired by Dick Goughan’s classic version; in the end we kept the arrangement simple and let the lovely song shine through. Hopefully, it’ll give a flavour of how our two styles combine and whets appetites for the rest of the record.’
Westlin Winds will be released on Bandcamp on Friday September 11th on Folkroom Records For press queries or to book a performance in 2021 contact email@example.com
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