With a wealth of different musical influences; from collaborations with renowned artists such as Karine Polwart, classical flute performances, and highly educated academically in music performance; three-time BBC Young Folk Award finalist Sarah Hayes looks to be on a strong onwards and upwards path.
Formerly part of indie-pop band Admiral Fallow, the Northumberland-born but currently Glasgow-based singer and flautist is moving forward to grace the folk world with her 2013 debut solo EP, Mainspring. The EP features Hannah James on the accordion, Ian Stephenson on guitar, Fiona MacAskill on the fiddle, and Hayes on the flute, whistle, piano and Fender Rhodes keyboard.
The EP begins with When I First Came to Caledonia, a sweet and intimate traditional song featuring Hannah James on the accordion. Hayes’ beautiful lilting Northern accent adds character and depth to her clear and warm vocals.
The following Convergence/Mitt i Juli is a melodic and harmonious instrumental tune written by Hayes, accordionist Hannah James and Jonas Olsson. Here, the flute takes prominence with the earthy and emotive support of the accordion.
In The Old Fisher, Hayes goes back to her roots with a song based on a 19th century Northumbrian poem by Thomas Doubleday. Her voice soars unaccompanied in this simple acapella form.
The closing track, Fink IV/Kathryn’s Favourite/Catherine Kelly’s, flaunts a set of three lively and foot-tapping jigs that round the EP off beautifully. Led by the whistle, these tunes highlight Hayes’ skill in performing a range of different instruments to great effect.
Flawless, strong and emotive, Hayes’ voice is the most striking and captivating element of this EP. Gentle support from the accordion, fiddle and guitar add deeper and more numerous layers to the music whilst complementing and harmonising with Hayes’ vocals.
The EP boasts a variety of forms, from song and instrumental tune to acapella vocals and jigs, combining both traditional and new material. These well-rounded choices are suggestive of Hayes’ strong song-writing and arrangement ability, which sparks great expectations for any future full-length album. This impressive EP is a gem and highly recommended for those with an appreciation for traditional folk music with a contemporary polish.Emily Bright
Self-released May 28th 2013
1. When I First Came to Caledonia
2. The Convergence/Mitt i Juli
3. The Old Fisher
4. Fink IV/Kathryn’s Favourite/Catherine Kelly’s