There is not a weak track among the 14 on Somerset singer-songwriter Ange Hardy's album The Lament of the Black Sheep. Hardy has a lovely voice – sweet and expressive – which brought her the Female Vocalist of the Year 2013 Award from Fatea Magazine. This, her third studio album, is bursting with interesting storytelling songs, as she perfectly balances the strengths of traditional folk music with fresh writing, which neither seems like pastiche or cloying imitation. "she perfectly balances the strengths of traditional folk music with fresh writing" I think the reason the songs are so full of colour and resonance is that Hardy has poured her own memories and characters into them (you can see that emotion even in the moving dedication to her Poppa Willis in the sleeve notes). The title track is strangely pleasant melancholy, in a re-working of the classic nursery rhyme Baa Baa (you know the rest), along with clever new songs on old themes such as ghosts (The Young Librarian), the pride of working the land (The Tilling Bird), and partings (The Sailor’s Farewell). There's wit, too, especially in The Woolgatherer: I am a young mother, a mother of two, For I courted a farm hand my father knew. He was tall and trim, and fit as an ox, But he wasn't the sharpest of tools in the box. Hardy is supported by a classy band, comprising James Findlay (vocals, fiddle) Lukas Drinkwater (double bass, backing vocals) Jon Dyer (flute, whistle) and Alex Cumming (accordion, backing vocals). Not forgetting Jo May (percussion), who even plays the spoons. An appropriate 'instrument' for a truly fine folk album that serves up so many treats. Reviewer : Martin Chilton, The Telegraph *****
I had been looking forward to receiving this album from Ange Hardy, as it was the long anticipated follow up to her last excellent CD – ‘Bare Foot Folk’. The previous offering was so good, that I thought that it would be difficult to follow. I’m delighted to report that she has managed to come up with a little gem of a recording with ‘The Lament of The Black Sheep’. It’s always difficult to review Ange Hardy, because there is usually some point of reference which you can use as an comparison of what an artist sounds like. In this case she sounds like, well Ange Hardy…. Every now and again you come across a songwriter who has the gift of being able to produce songs which sound like they have been discovered in a book of songs from years ago, dusted down and reinterpreted. Ange has the rare ability to be able to write convincingly in a ‘traditional’ style which sounds genuinely authentic. "Ange has the rare ability to be able to write convincingly in a ‘traditional’ style which sounds genuinely authentic." To complete the magic, she sings with conviction and sensitivity with stunning harmonies which she can actually reproduce in a live concert. Using ‘looping’ pedals, she sings a line – plays it back adds another and another and the end result is magnificent. The Lament of The Black Sheep is an album that you need to sit and listen to very carefully to fully appreciate the wordcraft and melody structure of the songs. The songwriting skills are complimented by well thought out arrangements and shade of light and dark to bring out the impact of the lyrics. Additional musicians make a massive but subtle contribution to the album, and Ange has roped in some excellent talent to appear on certain tracks. James Findlay | Lukas Drinkwater | Jon Dyer | Alex Cumming | Jo May "There has already been a stack of glowing appreciation showered on the recording, all which I can only agree with." This review has perhaps arrives a little late as I have had the CD for over a month. There has already been a stack of glowing appreciation showered on the recording, all which I can only agree with. I really can’t wait for the next offering… Reviewer : Alan Morley, UK Folk Music
The songs comprising the album are originals being ‘inspired by family, tradition, personal experience and the tales of West Somerset‘. This is a golden collection mark my words. I’m left feeling annoyed and frustrated with myself that I am only now coming to enjoy Ange’s music. "The exquisiteness is something my ears and mind need to lap up aplenty." What I knew already after just one listen through this preview (which has now been a good few listens) is it is already going to sit up with the top quarter of my personal albums of the year thus far. The exquisiteness is something my ears and mind need to lap up aplenty. This is music that nourishes. Live, it would get me high (on music, of course)! Plus I now have another phenomenal female folk singer to add to my favourites list alongside the likes of Kathryn Roberts,Kate Rusby and Cara Dillon. "another phenomenal female folk singer to add to my favourites list alongside the likes of Kathryn Roberts,Kate Rusby and Cara Dillon." Reviewer : Rob Powell
I've been reviewing albums for well over twenty five years and this type of review still scares the hell out of me. Album's like Ange Hardy's "The Lament Of The Black Sheep" are a genuinely once in a blue moon album and how do you review that without, a: coming across like a gushing imbecile or b: over egging the pudding? I guess by sticking to the facts, but apologies if my enthusiasm gets the better of me, I have tried holding back on this review a bit, but every time I hear it I just want to shout its praises, quite simply it's an album that starts off on a high and just keeps growing. "Album's like Ange Hardy's "The Lament Of The Black Sheep" are a genuinely once in a blue moon album" "The Lament Of The Black Sheep" is an album that references folk heroes old and new, whilst at all times remaining a firmly Ange Hardy cut. Part of the reason for that is Ange's absolutely incredible voice which sounds as if were created for folk music. Sweet and honeyed when it needs to be hard and hitting as appropriate, constantly delivering a quality narrative, that not only captures the story, but also the elemental quality. "I just want to shout its praises, quite simply it's an album that starts off on a high and just keeps growing" Whilst called "The Lament Of The Black Sheep" and graced with a sleeve and booklet that draws extensively on her family archive of farming and provided inspiration for a number of songs on the album, there is also a nautical theme that runs through the album, the bizarre thing is that for the former Ange's voice has an earthy quality to it, which seems to take on a saltier spirit when referring to songs of the sea. It really adds to the character of the album. It's an album that feels very traditional, it is a folk album in the accepted sense, but it's also an album that adds fourteen brand new songs to that canon with Ange penning all of the songs on the album. It also fulfils the Fatea folk criteria of being a history lesson, a geography lesson and a murder or two, with one of the protagonists being that most dangerous of beings, the mild mannered librarian. "it is a folk album in the accepted sense, but it's also an album that adds fourteen brand new songs to that canon" This is also an album that has light and grey, there is humour in the album, "The Woolgatherer" is a song that I feel is destined to become a club favourite with its tongue in cheek humour, that once again is supported by a really strong narrative and provides a break from sadder elements in the album. There is a broader approach to the album, a use of other musicians, including James Findlay, Alex Cumming and Lukas Drinkwater, Ange's trademark looping as well as vocal only renditions. Similarly the album ranges from variations of lullabies and nursery rhymes, through to songs of life and journey and inevitable loss, something particularly poignant when there isn't a body to bury. "not only is she an incredible vocalist, she is also damned fine with the pen, the result is songs that could move a statue" As many readers will know, narrative and character are what does it for me and this is an album that seems to charge both body and spirit. It's an album you can lose yourself in and similarly one that you can also find yourself in. Ange Hardy has really burst onto the scene in the last couple of years, there's a reason for that, not only is she an incredible vocalist, she is also damned fine with the pen, the result is songs that could move a statue. "The Lament Of The Black Sheep" is an album that is already timeless and I honestly can't see any reason why that would change. If a cd could become an heirloom, this would be the one. "If a cd could become an heirloom, this would be the one." Reviewer : Neil King, FATEA Magazine
Classic Folk with Mike Norris : Available on the EFDSS website http://www.efdss.org/listen BBC Introducing , BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Somerset http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p021v82s : Available on iplayer for limited time http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0229kqb : Repeat & available on iplayer for limited time FolkCast with Phil Widdows : Available on the FolkCast website http://www.folkcast.co.uk/ShowNotes/shownotes098.html Pop up Folk with Kitty McFarlane : Available on Mixcloud http://www.mixcloud.com/kitty-macfarlane/pop-up-folk-1/ Sarah on Sunday show, Radio Dacorum : Available on Mixcloud http://www.mixcloud.com/SarahJaneLowther/the-most-energetic-helen-meissner-on-radio-dacorums-sarah-on-sunday-show-1372014/ The Folk Show with Gary Grainger and Rebekah Findlay, Bishop FM : Available on Mixcloud http://www.mixcloud.com/garygrainger/folk-show-004/ FromeFM Live Lounge with Pierre and Alex : Listen again http://fromefm.co.uk/archive/alounge/140705-alounge-alounge.mp3 David Bond 'Folk Roots and Branches, 10Radio : Live only http://live.canstream.co.uk:8000/10radio.mp3.m3u : Thursday 17th 6-8pm Strange Brew with Steve Clarke http://www.mixcloud.com/Wee_Steve/strange-brew-cuillin-fm-17-july-2014/ : Available on Mixcloud From Saturday 19th. The Folk Show with Gary Hazlehurst http://www.mixcloud.com/garyhazlehurst9/stafford-fm-folk-show-19th-june/ : Available on Mixcloud Roots of the World, Hive Radio http://www.mixcloud.com/Hive_Radio/hive-radio-roots-of-the-world-show-july-2014/ : Available on Mixcloud FolkRise, UK Folk Music with Alan Morley http://www.mixcloud.com/FolkRise_UKFolkMusic/folkrise-july-2014/ : Available on Mixcloud Northern Sky - Sky Vaults Radio Show, Allan Wilko : LIVE only on Wed 23rd at 5pm http://streams.museter.com:2199/start/acoustic/ Brian Player's Acoustic Cafe http://brianplayermusic.wordpress.com : Various Dates & times over the coming week, see link for details Note to presenters & stations... If you have played or are intending to play my tracks over the next week and are not on this list, please let me know and I'll add you. Also, you will find a full list of Stations/shows on my Radio Links page & all Mixcloud uploads are added to my Radio Page ~ Again, let me know if I've missed you out. Thanks. Ange x
The third studio album from our deservedly award-winning West Somerset-based singer and songwriter Ange forms a logical continuance of, and provides a conscious sense of artistic development from, its predecessors. Before placing this disc in the player, I rated album number two, Bare Foot Folk, very highly, but even that ranking has been blown away at once with the fresh, airy breeze on which The Lament Of The Black Sheep coasts in. The album’s a well-considered sequence of songs that forms an exploration of the very soil that surrounds the roots which Ange so tellingly exposed on Bare Foot Folk. These roots grow deep in folk tradition, whether in song or story (or both), as manifested in the heritage, occupations, trades and industries which sprung out of it or in family concerns and experiences arising out of living with or amidst the traditions of rural life; some, inevitably, have more than a ring of autobiographical truth too, but never in the sense of navel-gazing or potentially embarrassing revelation that forms such a trap for the unwary or misguided songwriter. Ange’s writing displays an enviable sensitivity in tandem with a simple poetry in its delicacy of imagery, as its impressive diversity of expression and subject-matter transports us from the storm-tossed opener The Bow To The Sailor through to the aching wistful beauty of The Sailor’s Farewell via the contrasted bleak simplicity of the retold nursery-rhyme of the CD’s title song; from the thoughtful, conscientious consideration of The Gambler’s Lot to the cheeky a cappella of The Wanting Wife and the seductive lure of The Foolish Heir; from the genial lilt of the ploughing rhythm in The Tilling Bird to the unusually animated, yet quite enchanting, modern example of The Lullaby that soothingly and fittingly closes the disc. Ange writes so very authentically in the spirit and letter of folk tradition that in many cases you’d be hard pressed to distinguish her creations from the “genuine article” – not that it necessarily matters, of course, in the scheme of things. Ange’s own wonderful, characterful singing provides both the lead vocal lines and the supporting layers of imaginative and well-judged self-harmonisation, while she’s given a further boost when joined in duet mode by the complementary voice of James Findlay, as on The Wanting Wife and The Daring Lassie. The modest instrumental backdrops bring on board sparing yet uncannily effective contributions from the above-credited James Findlay (fiddle), along with Lukas Drinkwater (double bass), Alex Cumming (accordion), Jon Dyer (flute, whistle) and Jo May (percussion, spoons). The Lament Of The Black Sheep is a most charming release, extremely well sung and extremely attractively presented (nay, a work of art): it’s a really special record which should bring Ange’s profile to the forefront and win her many more admirers. Reviewer : David Kidman, The Living Tradition
Listening to Ange Hardy’s songs always seems to evoke some distant memories. Times and places once faded away return to life again. At once you’re walking the dusty corridors of heritage and hearing its spirits rise towards today. Moving on from her debut album Bare Foot Folk, on her latest album she delivers another striking collection of self-penned songs that retain and amplify the edge of inheritance - ‘The Lament of The Black Sheep’ offers original, living songs bathed in echoes of deeply felt tradition. "‘The Lament of The Black Sheep’ offers original, living songs bathed in echoes of deeply felt tradition." From the presence and potency of the opener ‘The Bow to The Sailor’ through a gently inventive interpretation of the classic nursery rhyme with ‘The Lament of The Black Sheep’ to the desperate understanding and sorrowful refusal of ‘The Gambler’s Lot’there’s a journey through contrasting influences and expressions. This album delivers cautionary tales, relates sad stories, clarifies simple virtues and lays bare tender poetry blended with stirring melodies – ‘The Daring Lassie’ is a personal and expressive tale, there’s deeply-felt loss within ‘The Sailor’s Farewell’, gentle perceptive humour striding through ‘The Woolgatherer’ while the soft empathy of ‘The Raising and The Letting Go’ is a simple delight. Ange Hardy adopts an approach to her music that mixes a fine appreciation of personal examination, a reflection of heritage and its entwining roots, with the ability to turn its anecdotes into words and music that make statements impossible to ignore. You only have to listen to ‘The Lament of The Black Sheep’ to hear the living heart of folk music beating throughout. "You only have to listen to ‘The Lament of The Black Sheep’ to hear the living heart of folk music beating throughout." Playing alongside Ange Hardy on ‘The Lament of The Black Sheep’ are James Findlay (vocals, fiddle) Lukas Drinkwater (double bass, backing vocals) Jon Dyer (flute, whistle) Alex Cumming (accordion, backing vocals) and Jo May (percussion, spoons). Reviewer: Tim Carroll, FolkWords
Hello friends and fans and family! It's been a busy month, the festival season is well underway (for future reference taking a 2 year old to a folk festival when you're performing is actually quite hard work!). Things are moving forward. In the last couple of weeks The Lament of The Black Sheep has been played on 8 different BBC radio shows that I know of, as well as dozens of other independent folk shows and it's also received FM airplay in Australia, America and Amsterdam... these are all good things! So, just three things I wanted to quickly say: There's a music video for my new single :) Please go and watch it if you haven't! I'm playing at Downend Folk Club in Bristol on Friday, and at Glastonbury Assembly with Reg Meuross and Jess Vincent on July 5th. Please come to both! If you'd like to do me a huge favor please consider joining my 'virtual street team':http://eepurl.com/RP3T9 Don't forget you can pre-order 'The Lament of The Black Sheep' on my website or from iTunes and get an instant free download of 'The Bow to The Sailor' - or you can buy a cheeky pre-release copy from any of my live concerts! Ange x We filmed a music video, on the beach, in front of a fire, during a lightning storm for 'The Bow to The Sailor'... You can watch it here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_ZVjGjI0Y8 My full gig listing is on my website, but there's two upcoming gigs I really wanted to highlight: Friday 19th June Ange Hardy at Downend Folk Club in Frenchay Village Hall. Doors 7.30pm, 8.00pm start More details and buy tickets now Saturday July 5th Reg Meuross, Ange Hardy & Jess Vincent at Glastonbury Assembly Rooms Doors 7.30 Show starts 8.00pm More details and buy tickets now I've been completely blown away by the amount of Radio airplay the album got in the first couple of weeks. It's been played on eight different BBC shows that I'm aware of, it's also had FM airplay in Australia, Amsterdam and the USA. Several shows have played two, or even three, tracks in the same show :) I'm a very happy Ange! Many of the shows are still available to listen again, though some will expire shortly: BBC Gloucestershire, Johnny Coppin BBC Scotland, Iain Anderson BBC Shropshire, Genevieve Tudor's Sunday Folk (1st June) BBC Shropshire, Genevieve Tudor's Sunday Folk (8th June) BBC Shropshire, Genevieve Tudor's Sunday Folk (15th June) BBC Wales, Frank Hennessy, Celtic Heartbeat BBC Bristol on BBC Introducing in the West BBC Somerset with Charlie Taylor Kathryn Tickell, Amazing Radio Roots & Fusion with Rick Stewart The Folk Show with Gary Hazlehurst Brian Player's Acoustic Music Radio The Richard Harris Folk and Blues Show Monday Music Lab with Alex McKay on Radio Verulam Ian Liversidge, GlastonburyFM Ian Freedman, Readifolk Radio Show David Bond's 'Folk Roots and Branches, 10Radio Along The Tracks, Acoustic Spectrum Liz Franklin's Folkal Point, Radio Teesdale Different Sounds with Ian Leak Ian Parmley, Roots and Americana, BishopFM Tim Addams Show, Frome FM Song From Ireland with Wim Van Gent (Amsterdam) Alan Hossack (Australia) Steve Dieterich, Celtic Airs (USA)
What a crazy week it's been! Mark Radcliffe played one of my songs on Radio 2 just a few moments after I finished talking to Mike Harding about the pre-recordings... this is all getting very real! However, we've just put the numbers into a spreadsheet and we need another two hundred and seventy two pre-orders to cover the album costs, so please pre-order sooner than later: thelamentoftheblacksheep.co.uk
Hello friends, fans and family!
The studio time has been booked and paid for. The guest musicians have been confirmed. It's nearly time to record a new album!
So, want to hear a bit of a teaser for what the album's going to sound like? Get yourself over to the website (www.thelamentoftheblacksheep.co.uk) where there's a new audio player on the homepage featuring pre-studio snippets from a number of the new songs. Introducing the guest musicians for the album
Guest musicians: James Findlay, Lukas Drinkwater, Alex Cumming and Jon Dyer. The studio recordings will feature some truly incredible guest musicians! I'm delighted to officially announce them:
The multi-award winning and ludicrously talented James Findlay will be providing exceptional fiddle playing and contributing the warm tones of his distinctive and traditional style of singing. The truly delightful Lukas Drinkwater will be playing double bass and providing backing vocals on the album. Alex Cumming will be bringing the traditional delights of his accordion to the album, and bright eyed Jon Dyer is going to be lending his flute and whistle expertise to the album.
To find out more about this wonderful assortment of musicians please visit www.thelamentoftheblacksheep.co.uk/team. Don't forget pre-orders are ONLY available until March 31st! Unlike Bare Foot Folk we're not reliant on pre-orders to make this album happen.
... but that's only because I'm even more committed than ever to my musical career, and if that means eating gruel for a year that's what we'll do! The more pre-orders we sell the better I can sleep at night!
You can pre-order your album from www.thelamentoftheblacksheep.co.uk. It's got the album artwork, track listings and lyrics... and now even an audio teaser so you can hear some snippets of the new songs.
The expected date for shipping pre-orders is May 14th, a full 4 months ahead of public release on September 13th.
You can also opt to have a special mention on the inlay, or if you want to be more involved you can sponsor an aspect of the production of the album :)
We've planned a limited edition run of CD's in a gorgeous matte case with a beautiful 20-page booklet crammed full of lyrics and notes about the songs. Click here to pre-order 'The Lament of the Black Sheep'
A few dates for your calendar
Here's a few of my upcoming performances, there's more dates soon to be confirmed :) 3rd May 2014 - Special Guest at the George Hotel - South Molton (Unplugged Concert) 16th May 2014 - Great Bow Wharf - Langport (Concert) 6th June 2014 - Wessex Folk Festival - Weymouth (Festival) 20th June 2014 - Downend Folk Club - South Gloucestershire (Concert) 1st July 2014 - Somer Valley FM ~ The Folk & Blues Show with Richard Harris (Radio Session) 3rd July 2014 - Glastonbury FM ~ Live Radio Session with Ian Liversidge (Radio Session) 8th July 2014 - Frome Festival - Somerset (Festival) 12th July 2014 - Glastonbury Assembly Rooms with Reg Meuross and Jess Vincent - Somerset (Concert) 20th July 2014 - Folk on the Farm - Anglesey (Festival) 2nd August 2014 - Barry Folk Festival - South Wales (Festival) 21st August 2014 - 10Radio ~ Folk and Roots with David Bond (Radio Session) 24th August 2014 - Radio Dacorum ~ Live Radio Session with Daria Kulesh (Radio Session) 6th September 2014 - Stogumber Festival - Somerset (Festival) 13th September 2014 - ALBUM LAUNCH CONCERT AT THE REGAL THEATRE IN MINEHEAD (more details soon) 21st September 2014 - The Priston Festival - Somerset (Festival)