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SHIRLEY COLLINS

Shirley Collins

Archangel Hill

    One of the most important voices in British folk music Shirley Collins returns with Archangel Hill, her third album for Domino. Due for release on May 26th, it showcases another peerless collection of songs chosen by Collins, some from traditional sources but others from favourite writers of hers.

    Produced by Ian Kearey - Shirley Collins’ musical director - the arrangements were shared between Collins, Kearey, Pip Barnes, as well as Dave Arthur and Pete Cooper, players from The Lodestar Band.

    All of the songs on Archangel Hill were recorded last year except for “Hand And Heart”, which was taken from a live performance at the Sydney Opera House in 1980 and features an arrangement by Shirley’s beloved and talented sister Dolly Collins.

    TRACK LISTING

    1. Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear
    2. Lost In A Wood
    3. The Captain With The Whiskers
    4. June Apple
    5. The Golden Glove
    6. High And Away
    7. Oakham Poachers
    8. Hares On The Mountain
    9. Hand And Heart
    10. The Bonny Labouring Boy
    11. Swaggering Boney
    12. How Far Is It To Bethlehem?
    13. Archangel Hill

    Shirley Collins

    Heart's Ease

      Heart’s Ease follows 2016’s Lodestar; which on its arrival, seemed like a musical miracle - an enthralling new LP from a woman who is widely acknowledged as England’s greatest female folk singer, but who had not recorded an album for 38 years.

      With Heart’s Ease, Shirley delivers a record even stronger than Lodestar having completely regained her confidence, and singing so well that you can’t believe she was away for so long. As Shirley put it, “Lodestar wasn’t too bad, was it? But when I listen to it, it does sometimes sound rather tentative. I had to record it at home because I was just too nervous to sing in front of somebody I didn’t know. This time I was far more relaxed – even though I went into a studio.” Recorded at Metway in Brighton, Heart’s Ease is as compelling and original as Shirley’s great albums from the Sixties and Seventies. There are traditional songs, of course, from England and the USA, but there are also more new songs than in the past (four non-traditional tracks) and there’s even a burst of experimentation that hints at possible new directions to come.

      In the years between For As Many As Will (1978) and the release of Lodestar, Shirley suffered from a form of dysphonia, had lost her singing voice, and was never expected to sing again – certainly not in public. Lodestar was a delightful surprise to all her fans and the folk community, and once Shirley had started to sing again, she was not going to stop. “I’m absolutely consumed by this music,” she said. “I have always loved it so much. I’m still learning songs and just want to keep learning them. I thought ‘somebody has got to sing these songs, so it might as well be me!”

      Collins followed Lodestar with a remarkable blitz of activity for a lady in her eighties. There was a film, and soundtrack album, The Ballad of Shirley Collins. There was a new autobiography, All in the Downs, which won the Penderyn Music Book Prize (beating the Beastie Boys). And there were high-profile come-back concerts, including a memorable appearance at London’s Barbican, at which she was backed by an exceptional group of friends and musicians, the Lodestar Band. She may have felt nervous being back on stage, “but I feel so supported by that band. And every song I sing I love anyway – it’s not a hardship to sing the songs!”.

      All of which is reflected in her second come-back album, Heart’s Ease. Collins’ intriguing choice of songs on Heart’s Ease includes two with lyrics by her first husband Austin John Marshall, a graphic artist and poet who produced several of her albums and had the inspired idea of getting Shirley to work with blues/jazz/world music guitarist Davy Graham on that extraordinary album Folk Roots, New Routes in 1964. There are more family memories with “Locked In Ice”, written by Dolly’s son the late Buz Collins and the most startling new piece is the finale, “Crowlink”, named after a pathway on the South Downs overlooking the English Channel “where I love to be,” in which Shirley sings against a moody, atmospheric fusion of Ossian Brown’s hurdy-gurdy, and electronica and field recordings of waves and sea birds from Matthew Shaw.

      Heart’s Ease is a glorious reminder that Shirley Collins is still in a class of her own, both as a folk singer with a distinctive no-nonsense style that is all her own, and as an innovator. And she certainly doesn’t intend this album to be her last. “I have such a huge memory of songs, so many of which I still want to sing. And I wasted all those years not singing, so now I’ve got to catch up a bit!”

      TRACK LISTING

      The Merry Golden Tree
      Rolling In The Dew
      The Christmas Song
      Locked In Ice
      Wondrous Love
      Barbara Allen
      Canadee-i-o
      Sweet Greens And Blues
      Tell Me True
      Whitsun Dance
      Orange In Bloom
      Crowlink

      Shirley Collins

      An Introduction To

        During the 1960s and ‘70s Shirley Collins was regarded by many as the first lady of folk music, the subsequent decades have only served to enhance that reputati on. Between 1955 and 1978 she recorded for the Folkways, Argo, Harvest and Topic labels. After the release of ‘For As Many As Will’ in 1978 she withdrew from performing and the music world aft er developing dysphonia. Shirley recently returned to recording after a very long hiatus and is still widely acknowledged as one of the finest singers and ambassadors to have emerged during the Folksong Revival of the 1960s.

        Few singers of the English folk revival have attempted as much on record as Collins – an extraordinary combination of fragility and power. “I like music to be fairly straightforward, simply embellished – the performance without histrionics allowing you to think about the song rather than telling you what to think.” Through an impressive series of experimental recordings Shirley established an extraordinarily sympathetic marriage of traditi onal songs handed down through generati ons of rural labouring people with ground breaking contemporary arrangements – recordings that have scarcely been equalled in subsequent decades. This collection draws together some of her most iconic recordings and will serve as an Introducti on to her very special catalogue of music.

        “Shirley Collins is without doubt one of England’s greatest cultural treasures.” Billy Bragg

        TRACK LISTING

        Tracks (CD):
        The Foggy Dew
        I Drew My Ship
        A Blacksmith Courted Me
        The False Bride
        All Things Are Quite Silent
        Polly Vaughan
        False True Love

        Spencer The Rover
        The Sweet Primeroses
        Rambleaway
        March The Morning Sun
        The Cherry Tree Carol
        The Moon Shines Bright
        One Night
        As I Lay In My Bed
        Come All You Litt Le Streamers

        Tracks (LP):
        The Foggy Dew
        A Blacksmith Courted Me
        The False Bride
        All Things Are Quite Silent
        Polly Vaughan
        False True Love
        The Sweet Primeroses
        Rambleaway
        March The Sun Morning
        The Cherry Tree Carol
        The Moon Shines Bright
        The Rigs Of Time

        The return of Shirley Collins after a 38 year silence. ‘Lodestar’ is a collection of English, American and Cajun songs dating from the 16th Century to the 1950s, recorded at Shirley’s home in Lewes by Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown of Cyclobe and produced and musically directed by Ian Kearey.

        Though Shirley Collins (MBE) has been absent from the music scene for many years, her impact has not diminished. The likes of Graham Coxon, Jonny Greenwood, Stewart Lee and Angel Olsen laud her and a documentary, ‘The Ballad Of Shirley Collins’, is currently in progress. Additionally, she was given the Good Tradition award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2008, elected President of the English Folk Dance & Song Society in the same year and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Sussex University this year. Shirley released her first memoir, ‘America Over The Water’, in 2004 and is currently working on her second book.

        “Shirley is a time traveller, a conduit for essential human aches, one of the greatest artists who ever lived, and yet utterly humble” - Stewart Lee.

        TRACK LISTING

        Awake Awake / The Split Ash Tree / May Carol / Southover
        The Banks Of Green Willow
        Cruel Lincoln
        Washed Ashore
        Death And The Lady
        Pretty Polly
        Old Johnny Buckle
        Sur Le Borde De L’Eau
        The Rich Irish Lady / Jeff Sturgeon
        The Silver Swan

        Shirley Collins / Davy Graham

        Folk Roots, New Roots

          Reissue of previously deleted classic Folk album - Back to Black.

          Shirley Collins

          The Sweet Primeroses

            Shirley Collins's sweet, self-effacing singing keeps her closer to the core of traditional song than many a more histrionic singer. Yet her work has been extraordinarily diverse - she has collaborated with the guitarist Davy Graham, the Incredible String Band, the Albion Country Band and her sister Dolly. "The Sweet Primeroses" are simple and resonant versions of Southern English songs which established Shirley Collins as a unique and influential voice on the folk scene.


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