Howay the Lasses is Annie Ball (accordion, piano and vocals), Bronwen Davies-Jones (vocals), Gareth Davies-Jones (guitar, mandolin and vocals) and Katie Tertell (cello and vocals), a new collective that celebrates, with its eponymous debut album, the stories and the contributions of great women from the North East of England.
The release is made up entirely of self-penned songs and arrangements, all dedicated to extraordinary figures. These include mathematician Janet Taylor; first woman ever to patent an astronomical instrument, visual artist and animator Sheila Graber; the mind behind Paddington Bear, engineer Rachel Parsons, a notable advocate for the rights of women; and Lady Mary Eleanor Bowes, also known as ’The Unhappy Countess’, a stand out figure in the history of the royal family.
It also includes the title track, composed to celebrate the first ever senior women’s football match in the history of St. James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and the splendid The Women’s Engineering Society which closes the album.
The rich tapestry of traditional sounds and instruments, lively or haunting, but always definitely heartfelt singing is shown in the skilful and accessible songwriting and the dainty harmonies. It is enriched by the variety of timbres and styles of these four musicians, making an enticing frame for this multi-faceted patchwork of female figures.
This album is also a powerful lesson to our society as it manages to highlight, with the thoughtful use of words and strong melodies, the obstacles these women had to face; an empathetic experience all round.
Howay the Lasses gives a new life to these sometimes unsung heroines, scientists, artists and social reformers who have reshaped our society by their example. An intriguing concept album to savour, possibly during your next trip to the North East of England.Michele Mele
Self-released on 18 October 2022 on CD and download.
1. Janet Taylor
2. Sheila Graber
3. The Female Muffin Man
4. Claudia Severa
5. Howay the Lasses
6. Fiona Hill
7. Lady May Eleanor Bowes
8. Rachel Parsons
9. The Collier Lass
10. The Women’s Engineering Society