Band of the month – 2017 archive
Fact is, he’d already been round the block before going solo : left school at 16, became a father, juggled family life with playing in bands while holding down a series of jobs. Music though was his driving passion. To some, going from being in a band to one man and his guitar may seem like a retrograde step, but for Robert this was all about finding his own musical direction – “I’ve done the whole thing of trying to be what people want me to be.”
So he reached back to his musical roots, to the Emmylou Harris and Waylon Jennings songs that he listened to as a kid from his father’s vinyl collection. His style’s been described as folk country; many of his songs have a classic, timeless feel; but they are also imprinted with his own individual stamp. The focus is on the words and on Robert’s soulful voice : these are mature songs, often drawing from personal experience.
That emotional maturity is already there is his debut album, 2013’s Life In Easy Steps, which led to a series of accolades. James Blunt invited him to play support in a show at the Liverpool Echo Arena; Bob Harris awarded him an Emerging Artist Award for Americana music. I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins seems set to further consolidate the Liverpool songwriter’s growing reputation. There’s a danger with country-tinged ballads of falling into a false sentimentality, but Robert is far too precise and reflective a lyricist to fall into this trap. Listen for example to the slow burning closing track, the seven minute Hand to Hold, which is addressed to his own children.
Robert Vincent – Hand To Hold
Robert Vincent – Dancing with Devils
Robert Vincent – Denial
Robert Vincent – You Wouldn’t Let It
This guy knows how to make a guitar sing … and how to write a song that sounds so timeless it could have been written 50 or 100 years ago.
Cary Morin is from the Crow Nation. He grew up in Montana, taking up firstly piano, and then guitar. “We lived out in the country, and there were no other kids around, so I had lots of time to mess around with the guitar.” Life then took him south to Colorado, where he’s been playing in bands now for the best part of 30 years. He’s still got a couple of bands that he plays in today, but he now also has a blossoming career as a solo artist. Often when an artist goes solo I feel they’re being slightly self-indulgent, they’ve lost their edge, what it was that attracted me to them in the first place. You could not say this of Cary Morin. It’s like he’s taken a hard look at himself, thought about what inspires him and how he can improve, and has pushed himself to get there.
” I started concentrating on fingerstyle blues guitar. When an old friend of mine was visiting for a few days and heard what I was doing, he suggested this style could be my new show. Another friend showed me open D tuning and that also became a big part of what I do. It was like learning to play guitar all over again and I continue to discover new chords and techniques constantly.”
These are my favourite songs from the new album Cradle to the Grave. His acoustic blues guitar playing is dazzlingly good, but bear in mind too that eight of the eleven tracks here are self-written : gentle, reflective songs about everything from fishing to the situation of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. It’s Delta blues, but Delta blues that may wander off at times towards folk or country, and that is alive to modern day issues. Altogether, a very tasty slice of American tradition.
Cary Morin – Cradle to the Grave
Cary Morin – Ghost Dog
Cary Morin – Back on the Train
Cary Morin – Mishawaka
Findings is an album that requires a little extra effort and persistence to unlock its magic. It doesn’t grab you by the throat : Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater make gentle acoustic music without hooks or big musical moments. You have to unfold the lyrics, in some cases unfold the history of the song, to get your ‘finding’, your reward, and what you see there may not be the same as what other people may see.
Ange Hardy had a tumultuous childhood, moving from one home to another, being placed in a children’s home, then fleeing that life and hitchhiking from England to Ireland. “For four months at the age of 14 I lived homeless on the streets of Ireland. Firstly in Dublin, on the doorstep of a shop called Envy in Grafton Street, and then later in Galway. This was where I found the love of music. I was given a guitar as a chance to busk for a living instead of begging. The only problem was I had no repertoire … and no idea how to play a guitar. So, with all the time in the world, I taught myself and made up the songs as I went along, drawing from the one thing I did know plenty about : life … After returning from Ireland I lived in Exeter where I scrambled through my teenage years finding numbness in drugs, clubs and alcohol and completely forgetting the freedom I’d once found in music. I found myself pregnant at 18.”
She’s now 33, Findings is her 5th album. The process of writing songs, creating music, is vital to her : it allows her to heal, to explore, to grow as a person. This is a song from 2013 :
Ange Hardy – Mother Willow Tree
And on this page she tells the story behind the song – “ I dug deep to discover it and am very very proud of it. It is magical.”
Findings is her first album as part of a duo, with double bass player Lukas. It’s also the first time she’s used traditional songs. “The album contains three traditional songs, three songs based around traditional lines and eight new songs.” It’s an album of rare quality, and I recommend that you give yourself time to really listen to and reflect on the lyrics.
Ange Hardy – True Are The Mothers