Listen to Gently Johnny by The Woodbine & Ivy Band featuring Jenny McCormick (Folk Police Recordings 2011)
Listen to The Roaming Journeyman by The Woodbine & Ivy Band featuring James Raynard (Folk Police Recordings 2011)
THE WOODBINE & IVY BAND
The Woodbine & Ivy Band is a group of Manchester musicians who came together to arrange and perform the ten traditional songs that make up this album. For each song they invited a different singer to contribute a lead vocal. These guests include Jackie Oates, Fay Hield, Nancy Wallace, Olivia Chaney, Pinkie Maclure and Jim Causley.
The band channels the hazy spirit of classic country rock in their exploration of the English and Scottish song tradition. Featuring layered guitars and a fluid yet muscular rhythm section, these songs are awash with warm pedal steel guitar and laced with harp, trumpet, Hammond organ and synthesiser, creating an expansive sound that reaches beyond that usually associated with traditional song. There is a sly tipping of the cap towards the electric folk revival of the 1970s, although the musicians involved are not all from a folk background: instead they bring a diversity of influences to bear on their interpretations of the songs.
The Woodbine & Ivy Band are drawn to autumnal songs with a vein of melancholia or a sprinkling of the supernatural at their core: from the sinister innocence at the heart of Gently Johnny to Twa Corbies’ macabre spectacle of two crows discussing their prospective human feast to the haunting tale of the discovery and fate of the Poor Murdered Woman, the band delve into the darker realms of the human imagination. Not all the tracks are so strange and arcane: Spencer the Rover is an everyday redemption song, whilst the Roaming Journeyman is a celebration of cheerily drunken exuberance.
The singers were initially invited to perform the songs a cappella and, during a series of intense late night sessions, the band used these performances as a guide to the choice of instrumentation and the mood of the arrangements. The fruits of these free-ranging sessions were consolidated during recording dates in North Manchester’s Limefield Studio, where the legendary folk producer, Bill Leader, was around to lend a hand and give the band his quiet nod of approval.
The musicians and singers were gathered together under the direction of Peter Philipson and Michael Doward and include some of Manchester’s finest players in John Ellis, Rachael Gladwin, Luke Das-Gupta and Alan Cook. The final recording session brought together a 12 piece vocal chorus to add rousing singaround backing vocals as a concluding flourish.
Amongst their influences, the Woodbine & Ivy Band cite the music of Sandy Denny, John Martyn, The Byrds, Pentangle, Crazy Horse and the drone rock of Spaceman 3. This album is also one for fans of Joe Boyd’s Witchseason Productions and much of the music released on the Harvest, Leader and Transatlantic record labels
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WHAT THE PRESS ARE SAYING:
"Poor Murdered Woman may even match Shirley Collins' landmark version" 4/5 Colin Irwin, Mojo
"A startling, epic wash of sound… a brave and entertaining set." 4/5 Robin Denslow, The Guardian
" A superb set of traditional British songs played in a pedal-steel-label early-1970s west coast style." Stewart Lee, The Times
“At last an album that matches, and maybe even surpasses, some of the classic British folk-rock LPs generated during the genre's golden years.” 5/5 The Australian
"One of my favourite albums of 2011.” Mike Harding
"Not a filler in sight... tremendous stuff!" 5/5, R2 Magazine
"They have caught a timeless, traditional English atmosphere on this exciting new collection." 4/5, Songlines
"This is the best thing that has happened to British folk music in years and will be a key milestone for music historians of the future… The finest album I have heard in years and I cannot applaud the efforts of all involved enough…emancipating and mindblowing!" 5/5 Folk Radio UK
“The Woodbine & Ivy Band play with a loose and eclectic folk rock spirit - all jangly guitars and dark, melancholic wide-open spaces.” fRoots
"An album that will serve as a reference point for years to come, it really is that strong... if you fail to be moved by this album it would be because you are already dead." Fatea Magazine
"Original and imaginative...Folk Police Records have come up with another smashing concept, then, and one that is sure to cement its reputation and hopefully win over a few more converts." Terrascope
“Shifting arrangements and stylish playing hit points where fans of Sandy Denny, Fairport Convention and Neil Young's Crazy Horse will go a little weak at the knees… You'll be coming back to this album again and again.” Spiral Earth
“The single seamlessly marries the traditional tale with the American Deep South - with some classic country rock guitar riffs and brass solos… will warm the heart of even the most grinch-like this Christmas.” Bright Young Folk
"This a bold re-imagining of folksong which... puts the Woodbine & Ivy Band in the forefront of those moving folk music into the twenty-first century." 8/10 Americana UK
"Consistently powerful... Displaying a plethora of well-chosen influences, yet never over-used... one of the best folk issues in a long time." Record Collector
"One of the most important British folk albums in years... some incredible arrangements and playing and a group of vocalists who are the best in their genre. Not just an important folk album, it’s one that should be heard by any music lover." Penny Black Music
"Whoever this collection ends up appealing to will grow to love it as they barely put a foot out of place... 'The Woodbine & Ivy Band' should be treasured by seasoned folkies and new converts alike." Sounds XP
"The musical climate here is that of expansive folk-rock-with-a-dash-of-country-and-psych... a stimulating and highly spirited record, and I’d be keen to hear a second batch of traditional songs being accorded the Woodbine & Ivy Band treatment." Folk and Roots