The Furrow Collective
Featuring award-winning solo musicians Rachel Newton, Lucy Farrell, Emily Portman and Alasdair Roberts, The Furrow Collective approaches traditional ballads with a bold, improvisatory twist. With the backing of harp, guitar, viola, concertina, banjo, musical saw and rousing harmonies, storytelling takes centre stage.
Emily and Alasdair are both known for their original, folklore-influenced song-writing, and, often finding themselves on the same bills they struck up a musical friendship, sharing stages and collaborating on each others albums. Lucy and Rachel are both solo artists, session players and long-time collaborators with Emily Portman and her trio.
Dan Haywood‘s reputation as a UK songwriter/storyteller/performer of the highest distinction is gathering steam, on the back of his slow-burn classic of a début triple album, ‘Dan Haywood’s New Hawks’, as well as a string of choice tours and shows with fellow sonic nomads including Josephine Foster, A Hawk and A Hacksaw, Michael Hurley and The Tallest Man On Earth.
New album Dapple, out on Southern Bird, finds him in the great outdoors (The Forest Of Bowland, to be precise), delivering a sweet and lyrical song cycle that repaints the English folk pastoral in bright and beautiful tones.
Singer, writer and concertina player Emily Portman hails from Glastonbury and has been named by Uncut as “one of the new British folk scene’s most beguiling presences”. Emily’s songwriting draws on fairytales, ballads and folklore, inspired by their underlying darker themes. Her debut album ‘Glamoury’ earned her two BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominations, and the plaudits have kept on coming – in 2013 she won Best Original Song at the Awards.
Emily has also graced the cover of fRoots, and in 2012 was nominated in the Critic’s Poll Album of the Year. Alongside Lucy Farrell (viola) and Rachel Newton (harp) in the Emily Portman Trio, she has toured extensively through the UK, and in 2013 supported the Be Good Tanyas on a sell-out tour. When the three are joined with Alasdair Roberts, they form the Furrow Collective.
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Alasdair Roberts was raised in rural Perthshire and now based in Glasgow, Scotland. He has been described by music journalist Colin Irwin as “one of Britain’s most singular and original talents”, having been acclaimed for his original interpretations of traditional ballads as well as being an innovator of ‘avant-folk’ through his ensemble Appendix Out.
Since 2000 he has released several albums of music under his own name featuring a wide array of collaborators, on the Drag City label. He has also collaborated with film makers, poets and puppeteers and has toured is music widely in the UK and abroad, performing alongside the likes of Waterson/Carthy and Joanna Newsom, among others.
Edinburgh-born multi-instrumentalist Rachel Newton was engaged in traditional music from an early age, and went of to study at the City of Edinburgh Music School and on the Folk and Traditional Music Course at Newcastle University. A dual upbringing in both urban and rural cultures has resulted in a musical style with a diverse range of influences.
Newton co-founded Scots six-piece The Shee, and also performs with The Emily Portman Trio, in a duo called Rachel & Lillias, and as part of the Furrow Collective. She is highly sought-after as a musician, known for her skills on both the acoustic and the electric harp and her singing in both Gaelic and English. Her debut solo offering ‘The Shadow Side was nominated for ‘Album of the Year’ in Scots Trad Music Awards, and showcases Rachel’s own compositions alongside an original selection of ballads and contemporary songs.
2017 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Lucy Farrell is at last embarking on the solo career so many have been hoping for, since first hearing her exquisite renditions of traditional ballads and quietly moving original songs.
As one fourth of The Furrow Collective, Lucy is the current recipient of the Best Group prize following the release of their widely acclaimed Wild Hog LP, earned during an immensely busy and creative time in which she contributed to the raved about return to form that was the Eliza Carthy & The Wayward Band’s Big Machine album and tour, and also saw her final shows with the Emily Portman Trio with whom she’d sung, sawed and played viola for many years.
An inveterate collaborator, the news that Lucy is to take centre stage in her own right comes as a welcome surprise to all those who’ve been entranced by her haunting and quintessentially English voice, subtle and instinctive musicianship and her ability to connect emotionally with an audience while adhering to the great Shirley Collins’ adage that in folk music the singer should never get in the way of the song.
Lucy Farrell first enchanted fans of traditional music when she began performing as a duo with fellow Newcastle Folk Degree graduate Jonny Kearney. Invited to become the regular opening act for The Unthanks, Lucy & Jonny’s blend of wry and lovelorn tales with exquisite interpretations of English, Scottish and American ballads saw them frequently outselling the headline act at the CD stall. As well as Lucy’s fruitful partnership with singer and songwriter Emily Portman and the award winning harpist and singer Rachel Newton, she has also written, performed and recorded with numerous bands and projects including Dark Northumbrian, Gluepot, a star-studded live tribute to Norma Waterson, and also formed her own group Ogres. Although she’s rejected the conventional career path, Lucy has become one of the most in demand musicians and vocalists on the young folk scene.
Signed to the impressively visionary Hudson Records, Lucy Farrell has returned to the traditional folk songs that have remained at the heart of everything she’s done. These are the ballads that inspire her own compositions, but in their own handed-down beauty and strangeness tell fantastical stories beyond our imaginations. And in her voice they bewitch anew.