fri 03/04/2020

CD: Olivia Chaney - The Longest River | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Olivia Chaney - The Longest River

CD: Olivia Chaney - The Longest River

The young English singer's long-awaited album delivers treasures

The Longest River: shaping up to be one of the English folk albums of the yearSimon Wisbey

Olivia Chaney’s reputation as a singular folk singer and songwriter has been bubbling on and off the radar for some years now. There were EPs in 2010 and 2013, and she featured on the excellent Peter Bellamy tribute, 2011’s Oak Ash and Thorn, and she has toured solo, as well as worked with Alasdair Roberts.

Olivia Chaney’s reputation as a singular folk singer and songwriter has been bubbling on and off the radar for some years now. There were EPs in 2010 and 2013, and she featured on the excellent Peter Bellamy tribute, 2011’s Oak Ash and Thorn, and she has toured solo, as well as worked with Alasdair Roberts. She was part of a beautiful and impromptu vocal trio with Lisa Knapp and Nancy Wallace for the recent Bobstock celebrations for Bob Copper, and in 2013 was nominated for the Horizon Award and Best Original Song in the BBC Folk Awards, for the title track to her long-awaited debut album on Nonesuch, which is now finally out two years later.

It’s limpid, lyrical folk/art music, drawing out a haunted sense of English pastoral, folk tale and myth, while keeping the arrangements subdued and intimate-sounding – fiddle and harmonium drones on Alasdair Roberts’ “Waxwing”; the chiming, melancholy guitar of “Loose Change”; and the stately piano-led lyricism of the title track. There’s a striking account of Purcell’s “There’s Not A Swain”, and the one traditional folk song, “The False Bride”, in the album opener, and one of its finest tracks

The Longest River was recorded at the vintage RAK studios in London, with Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams and Jerry Boys, who produces the impeccable World Circuit catalogue, and features her regular musicians Oliver Coates, Jordan Hunt, and Leo Taylor, as well as her own work on piano, harmonium and guitar.

Her voice has a remarkable clarity and purity, a lyrical and emotional strength that puts her up among the best – of her generation or those who came before. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s here to stay – and alongside Sam Lee’s Fade in Time, it’s shaping up to be one of the English folk albums of the year.

Her voice has a remarkable clarity and purity, a lyrical and emotional strength that puts her up among the best

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