It is my pleasure to have composed a new piece of music for Heart’s Ease, the new and truly wonderful album by Shirley Collins.
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! ”