Shirley Collins announces new album ‘Heart’s Ease’

With 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 attempt. 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 ’60s and’ 70s. There are traditional songs, of course, from England and the US, but there are also more new songs than in the past (four non-traditional tracks). There’s even a burst of experimentation that hints at possible new directions to come.

Collins’ intriguing choice of songs includes two with lyrics by her first husband Austin John Marshall , a graphic artist and poet who produced several of her albums; he also had the inspired idea of getting Shirley to work with blues / jazz / world music guitarist Davy Graham on the 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 . 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, with 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! ”
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The first song to be shared from Heart’s Ease is “Wondrous Love” ; its tune comes from an 18th Century English ballad about the infamous sea captain William Kidd, who was hanged for piracy in 1701. Collins first heard the hymn at a Sacred Harp Convention in Alabama (Collins and Alan Lomax recorded it on their field recording trip in 1959). Shirley has decided to sing it now, she said , “because songs are stored in my memory for a great many years, and suddenly it seems the right time to bring them out again.”

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