One of our most celebrated voices in beautifully confident mood. A really quite special collection.
Heart’s Ease follows 2016’s Lodestar; which on its arrival, seemed like a musical miracle - an enthralling new LP from a woman who is widely acknowledged as England’s greatest female folk singer, but who had not recorded an album for 38 years.
On Heart’s Ease, Shirley delivers a record even stronger than Lodestar having completely regained her confidence, and singing so well that you can’t believe she was away for so long. As Shirley put it, “Lodestar wasn’t too bad, was it? But when I listen to it, it does sometimes sound rather tentative. I had to record it at home because I was just too nervous to sing in front of somebody I didn’t know. This time I was far more relaxed – even though I went into a studio.”
Recorded at Metway in Brighton, 'Heart’s Ease' is as compelling and original as Shirley’s great albums from the Sixties and Seventies. There are traditional songs, of course, from England and the USA, but there are also more new songs than in the past (four non-traditional tracks) and there’s even a burst of experimentation that hints at possible new directions to come.
All of which is reflected in her second come-back album, Heart’s Ease. Collins’ intriguing choice of songs on Heart’s Ease includes two with lyrics by her first husband Austin John Marshall, a graphic artist and poet who produced several of her albums and had the inspired idea of getting Shirley to work with blues/jazz/world music guitarist Davy Graham on that extraordinary album Folk Roots, New Routes in 1964.
There are more family memories with “Locked In Ice”, written by Dolly’s son the late Buz Collins and the most startling new piece is the finale, “Crowlink”, named after a pathway on the South Downs overlooking the English Channel “where I love to be,” in which Shirley sings against a moody, atmospheric fusion of Ossian Brown’s hurdy-gurdy, and electronica and field recordings of waves and sea birds from Matthew Shaw.
Heart’s Ease is a glorious reminder that Shirley Collins is still in a class of her own, both as a folk singer with a distinctive no-nonsense style that is all her own, and as an innovator. And she certainly doesn’t intend this album to be her last. “I have such a huge memory of songs, so many of which I still want to sing. And I wasted all those years not singing, so now I’ve got to catch up a bit!”
Both LP formats are pressed on 140g vinyl. The Deluxe edition features very limited edition gold foil blocking to on the sleeve.
1. The Merry Golden Tree
2. Rolling In The Dew
3. The Christmas Song
4. Locked In Ice
5. Wondrous Love
6. Barbara Allen
8. Sweet Greens And Blues
9. Tell Me True
10. Whitsun Dance
11. Orange In Bloom
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