Captives On The Carousel are my latest (and most favourite) Sheffield discovery. I had been hearing the name drifting around for a while, but I finally managed to catch them live a couple of weeks ago at a charity gig where they were playing alongside fellow Sheffield bands Young Peculiar and Screaming Maldini. For me, as a committed fan of folk music (and especially folk that errs on the side of ethereal), it was pretty much love at first listen.
Singer and guitarist Sarah and cellist Ben have been playing as a pair since 2008, when Ben started joining Sarah at her solo shows. In 2009, they decided to make things official and Captives On The Carousel was born. Together they sing haunting folk originals, in which delicate strings and dark-edged prosaic lyrics soothe you into a dreamlike and otherworldly existence.
Since the middle of 2011, the duo have been, as their website puts it, ‘taking things more seriously’, and with the help of friends succeeded in putting out a self-released debut EP. This was followed by another, ‘The Garden’, in 2012. They’ve been busy working the folk festival circuit in the summertime, as well as securing stage-time at Tramlines, Peace in the Park and Off The Tracks, and have recently spent some time touring to promote their latest EP release.
If you’d like to find out more about the wonderful folkiness of Captives On The Carousel, visit their website or their Facebook page. There’s also plenty of gorgeous tracks to listen to on their Soundcloud profile – go check them out, you won’t be disappointed.
I found about Laura J Martin and her unique brand of ethereal, psychedelic-folk just over a year ago now, in the glorious settings of Wales’ own Green Man festival. Petite and softly spoken when she’s not playing, this Liverpudlian lass creates quite a noise for a small woman alone on stage but for her instruments, her voice and a loop pedal.
Laura is a multi-instrumentalist, proficient in piano, flute and mandolin, all of which she utilises in her music to stunning effect. She plays all with vigour, and when performing seems possessed simultaneously with a fiery energy and a gentle endearing quality that makes her presence and her music all the more compelling. Her musical style is somewhat difficult to pin down, and others may dub it differently, but for me she errs on the side of an otherworldly folkishness, somewhat primal beats (I am thinking especially of her track “Fire Horse” here) mixing with soaring flute melodies and haunting, breathy vocals expounding strange, mythical lyrics.
Recently, I was lucky enough to catch Laura live again, this time in the stunning setting of the Sheffield Cathedral as part of the city’s annual Tramlines festival. The acoustics of this historic building suited the ethereal quality of her music perfectly, and her quirky harmonies rang out through the rafters with a wonderful clarity and grace. I was struck again with the sense of awe that she has, as an individual, an awesome quality that allows her to captivate such a large space and to produce such a large and complex sound.
Laura released her latest record, ‘The Hangman Tree’ in January 2012 on Static Caravan. If you want to experience something beautiful yet unpredictable, strange yet charming, then I strongly recommend you give it a listen. To find out more about her, visit her website.
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I am enormous fan of folk music. I love everything about it, from the range of instruments, to the haunting lyrics, to the talent of the musicians that make it. However, what I especially love about it, and what makes it particularly relevant to the concept of Born In Britain is that England (and subsequently Britain, though both Wales and Scotland have their own unique folk traditions) has its own distinctive brand of folk that began here hundreds of years ago, that was nurtured here, that evolved here and that has been constantly re-imagined by musicians here ever since.
David Gibb & Elly Lucas belong to the latest generation of folk musicians who are taking these ancient songs and reworking them to create something that, whilst still based strongly in folk tradition, is simultaneously innovative, new and simply beautiful.
Hailing from Derbyshire, David and Elly have been working and performing as a duo for several years. David plays guitar and mandolin and Elly wields both fiddle and viola, and they share the vocal load between them. The distinctive vocal qualities they both possess when taking the lead also complement each other perfectly in exquisite (and often haunting) harmonies. Their musical talent is undisputable, and in 2011 they were chosen as finalists for the highly regarded BBC Young Folk Award. They released their first studio album ‘Old Chairs to Mend’ on Hairpin in March 2012.
With musical qualities that is all at once melodious, soothing, joyous and yet with a hint of the ethereal, David and Elly bring their own brand of gentle simplicity to stories ages old. They are young British musicians adapting old British music for a contemporary British audience. How much more ‘Born in Britain’ can you get?