Commissioned by the English Folk Dance and Song Society and Folk by the Oak, Sweet Liberties is a unique musical collaboration formed in partnership with the Houses of Parliament to celebrate 800 years in the furtherance of democracy. This project brings together some of the finest folk singer/songwriters, resulting in a stunning album of fourteen original tracks celebrating those who influenced and shaped the liberties we enjoy today.
This album is excellent testament to the calibre of the artists, Martyn Joseph, Nancy Kerr, Maz O’Connor and Sam Carter, expertly supported by Patsy Reid (violin and viola) and Nick Cooke (melodeon), delivering new songs which are both musically and lyrically creative, thought-provoking and memorable.
Nancy Kerr uses imagery and metaphor to superb effect in the excellent Seven Notes, weaving multi-culturalism, migration and colonialism in a memorable song whose un-complex melody is entrancing and engaging.
In musical contrast to this is the American spiritual influence in One More River, from Sam Carter, a touching song inspired by one man’s flight from slavery to freedom journeying across the Atlantic to England. Carter’s ancestral connection with this story is evident in his heartfelt vocals.
Reflecting on what life was like for a child in the 1800s and comparing this to the experience of today’s children, Twelve Years Old is a moving and thought-provoking song. Martyn Joseph’s distinctive vocals bring real emotion and pathos to the challenges posed within this inspired composition.
Maz O’Connor wrote Broken Things in memory of those who strived for better working conditions, reflecting on the fate of the mining industry and the demise of trade unionism. A reflective song with gentle guitar accompaniment veiling the strong message delivered subtly within O’Connor’s pure vocal delivery
A victim’s struggle for justice inspired Nancy Kerr’s Written on My Skin, named after the vellum on which the laws of the land are written. This is a beautiful song delivered with feeling and passion. Melodeon, guitar and fiddle support Kerr’s touching performance of this truly outstanding piece.
Sweet Liberties is so much more than an historic concept album, delivering a rich variety of tracks crafted and honed to entertain and to challenge. Kerr, O’Connor, Joseph and Carter have individually and collectively excelled in delivering a fine set of new songs which not only reflect the past but also inject life, vibrancy and relevance to today’s social and cultural challenges.
Don’t let this album pass you by!Andy McMillan
Released on Quercus Records on 7 October 2016.
2. Rich Man’s Hill
3. Am I Not a Man?
4. Dic Penderyn
5. Seven Notes
6. This Old House
7. Twelve Years Old
9. Broad Waters
11. Dark Days
12. Written on My Skin
13. Broken Things
14. One More River