Gaelynn Lea and Bella Hardy
Gaelynn Lea is a musician from Duluth, MN. She has been playing violin for over twenty years. First classically trained, she began learning traditional Celtic and American fiddle tunes at the age of 18. During her college years Gaelynn started sitting in with various folk/rock musicians and developed an improvisational style all her own. Eventually she also began singing and dabbling in songwriting. Gaelynn has played alongside many notable Minnesota musicians over the years, including Alan Sparhawk, Charlie Parr, and Billy McLaughlin.
Gaelynn Lea has been actively performing throughout Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2006, contributing to a number of musical projects in the Twin Ports. Currently her most active collaboration is The Murder of Crows, an atmospheric alternative duo with Alan Sparhawk. Together they recorded an EP titled Imperfecta in 2012. Their original song When We Were Young was featured on the Sundance Channels acclaimed drama Rectify in June 2014. Gaelynn also regularly performs solo sets of experimental fiddle tunes sprinkled with her original songs; her aim is to create a meditative, layered sound that allows the listeners mind to drift.
"Karen Dalton and Joanna Newsom melt together in the form of Gaelynn Lea and set about absolutely obliterating your heart." -Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys)
"The way her voice resonates is so unusual and beautiful, like nothing I've ever heard before." -Jess Wolfe (Lucius)
Bella Hardys seventh solo album With The Dawn her first since being named BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer Of The Year in 2014 isnt just the latest collection of songs from this prolific and ingenious artist. The album is an account of one year of her life. Where previously Bella has adapted and explored traditional ballads and fables to tell her contemporary folk tales, the stories that inspired these songs are her own experiences: good and bad, happy or sad.
With The Dawn is a more intimate and reflective album than before. Working with producer Ben Seal, the arrangements are more instinctive, more reactive, as befits the mind-set that informed the lyrics. Vivid brass gives way to lonesome piano; choral voices peal; banjos emerge out of beats and blips. Elements of the initial demos, sometimes recorded into a phone as the thoughts occurred, have been kept. Whatever instrument was nearest to hand was grabbed and deployed whenever and wherever (even on one occasion in the bath) giving With The Dawn its striking immediacy.
These are songs written on the road, full of that sense of displacement, longing and contemplation that all itinerant musicians know. This was a time for a turning-30 Bella where nothing was stable. Documenting that flux as an album was a way to make sense of it all. On With The Dawn, Bella Hardys soaring kite-like voice is married to lyrics that poetically question everything shes seen and done up till now; letting go of expectations, both other peoples and her own. But with closing lullaby And We Begintheres a light at the end... or rather the beginning.
Only one song didnt spring directly from Bellas year of touring and tumult. Jolly Good Luck To The Girl That Loves A Soldier was commissioned by Songs For The Voiceless, a project which gathered the countrys best folk artists to sing some of the lesser known stories of World War I. The resulting album was one of many bold paths Bella Hardys career has taken in recent years. From collaborating with Martin Simpson, John Smith and others on the hugely acclaimed Elizabethan Sessions, to a joint tour with Edinburgh miserablist Blue Rose Code, and an international songwriter exchange with Canadas Cara Luft who also guests on this album.
Bella grew up in Edale in the Peak District but now lives in Edinburgh. Although the Hardy family sang in the local choir, it was a combination of her childhood love for ballad books and visits to local folk festivals that decided her future. At 13 she began performing at Cambridge and Sidmouth festivals and in 2004 reached the final of the BBC Young Folk Award, having taught herself to fiddle sing. Following a BA in English Literature and a Masters degree in Music, Bella released her debut album Night Visiting in 2007. One of its songs, Three Black Feathers was nominated for a BBC Folk Award. It was her first original composition.
She has created nothing short of a masterpiece - The Sunday Times
Ultimately, what Hardy has done here is make a folk album for people who don't normally like folk music. In doing so, it's both a credit to her and the genre. - Q Magazine, 4*
...the 6Music market surely beckons for Bella. As well as reaffirming her status as a shining star in the folk scenes firmament, With The Dawn feels like a game-changer - fRoots, 5*
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