sat 11/07/2020

CD: Lisa Knapp - Till April Is Dead: A Garland of May | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Lisa Knapp - Till April Is Dead: A Garland of May

CD: Lisa Knapp - Till April Is Dead: A Garland of May

Inventive musical settings hail the folk singer as Queen of the May

Lisa Knapp: 'There is magic at work'

I’ve long cherished south London folk singer Lisa Knapp’s Hunt the Hare - A Branch of May EP, released in a limited edition in 2012, so to have Till April Is Dead: A Garland of May come in the full bloom of May is a charm indeed. It is her third album since her 2006 debut with Wild and Undaunted, and her voice, and the discrete musical settings featuring her partner and producer Gerry Driver, as well as drummer Pete Flood and Knapp on strings, organ, keyboards and hammered dulcimer, is layered in the fabric of birdsong, clock chimes, bells and Victorian-era barrel organs, mechanical devices from a time when the May rites were still widely celebrated, and the folk tradition itself was being documented.

Folklorist Steve Roud’s voice features on the opening track, “The Night Before May”, one of several songs drawn from Padstow’s Obby Oss May ritual, cut with snippets of Roud describing the traditions of the May festivities. Singer Mary Hampton joins Knapp on the composite folkloric aphorisms of the title song, while Graham Coxon, a longtime fan of Shirley Collins, plays and sings harmony vocals on “Searching for Lambs” from Anthems in Eden, while Current 93’s David Tibet lives it up on “Staines Morris”, originally published in 1653 as “The Maypole Song”, and Mary Hampton returns on lead vocals for the “Bedfordshire May Day Carol”.

Producer and multi-instrumentalist Gerry Driver really has his work cut out here – I counted 13 instruments in his credits, plus production and arrangements, but there’s no going overboard. Set to layers of music of the lightest touch, including bird music, Knapp sounds perfectly at home in her May Queen threads – ardent and pure, driven by purpose and conviction. You can tell these songs are not make believe. There is magic at work here, and it’s real. 


Knapp sounds ardent and pure, driven by purpose and conviction


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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