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Lisa Knapp

  • Wild And Undaunted
  • Hidden Seam

    Lisa Knapp

  • Eliza Carthy,
  • Bellowhead,

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    Lisa Knapp

    wild and undaunted

    Wild And Undaunted 9 ( 2007 )
    Blacksmith / There U R / Beggar Beggar / Wild & Undanted / Little Bird / Lavender / Bitter Withy / Ride Along / Dew Is On The Grass / Six Dukes / Salisbury Plain

    Performing the old standards is a link of course to the dusty old folk crowd, yet Lisa does something different with everything here. The overall effect of the spaces in the sound is to lend a natural air to the entire set of proceedings. There's a freshness to the sound and a strikingly modern way she sets these tunes down. 8 trad arr tunes join three of her own compositions, yet they all join each other. Her own compositions don't sound out of place and the trad arr tunes fail completely and joyously to sound old in any way whatsoever, despite the largely traditional instrumentation used throughout. In summary, her voice is stunning and the sound is both respectful of folk traditions and progressively forwards looking and fresh. Quite some acheivement. There are touches of Nico, touches of Toumani Diabate, touches of early Sandy Denny. All these are golden touches. Youth ( the top producer/remixer ) touches 'Blacksmith', which could have ended in disaster, as Youth isn't exactly known for his work with folk singers. Yet, it's impossible to tell what's he's actually done to the tune. I'm familiar with the song from the Steeleye Span version, but I must say I do prefer this Lisa Knapp version. It's dramatic and repeat playable.

    'Blacksmith' becomes even more dramatic flowing into the Lisa Knapp penned 'There U R', a wonderfully exciting song where a single violin plays an insistent melody that Lisa sings across. Her voice swoops and weaves and goes from soft to wordless joy. You can hear touches of the Irish in her influences. The song rises and climbs as percussion is added in. It's hard to actually describe the hypnotic effect the song has or the way she sings over herself. To complete a triumphant opening to the album then, 'Beggar Beggar' is impossibly beautiful, really highlighting her voice over appropriately minimal guitar. The title track is joyous, 'Little Bird' reminds me of Toumani Diabate although I couldn't exactly explain to you why. Simple lyrics, simple playing on a single instrument, later joined by a single other instrument. Her voice, always her voice and simplicity is an underrated thing in music these days. Simplicity is the hallmark of many a timeless song throughout the ages. Lisa Knapp is already timeless. 'Lavender' reminds me of Nico, although it's fair to say, Lisa Knapp is a hell of a better singer than Nico ever was. 'Dew Is On The Grass' borders on Eliza Carthy territory and is perhaps the most traditional sounding piece here. Even here though, Lisa makes it come alive with energy and enthusiasm. Strings decorate 'Six Dukes', beautifully so. The closer 'Sailsbury Plain' is a lovely vocal excersize and 'Wild And Undaunted' is a brilliant debut LP. The lines rush into one another, blood pressure rises and you wind back at the beginning again, listening to drama of 'Blackbird' and all of the rest.

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    Hidden Seam 8 ( 2014 )
    Shipping Song / Hidden Seam / Ruler of the Rest / Black Horse / Seagiver / Two Ravens / Hunt the Hare, Pt. I / Hunt the Hare, Pt. II / Hushabye

    A full five years after this web-site named her debut LP album of the year - we finally have a follow-up. I've started listening to Radio Four in the meantime and have listened to far fewer music radio stations. None of this has anything to do with Lisa Knapp of course, just some context. I still plough the same furroughs in trying to discover and source new music and since 2008 I still haven't found anybody else that I'm looking for in a folk-field. Lisa has a light, high and airy voice but the sound betrays the strength she has. Occasionally, her voice glides and sails through the air and then swerves, as she reaches for a stronger feel. There is Lau somebody whispers. Lau, there is Lau. Bellowhead have split up and they never reached their potential, but there is Lau. Well, of course, there's always Lau - but I really wish Lisa Knapp would release more than one album every five years. 'Hidden Seam' by the way sounds superb - the instruments are clear and when the arrangements reach beyond voice and acoustic seem fit for the main stage at Glastonbury rather than merely the folk-tent.

    Kathryn Williams has long been one of my favourite singer-songwriters and she has a similarly whispery voice to Lisa, My delight then at them both singing during the closing 'Hushabye' - a song with almost certainly less than one thousand streams on Spotify. Spotify and Apple Music are designed to make the popular even more popular. I do use Spotify however - the catalogue is huge and the playlists are good and Spotify isn't Apple. Yet, artists like Lisa will still make a living touring and selling discs the old fashioned way. By the way, when Lisa and Kathyrn harmonise so softly during this track, musically which is so quiet and soft and plucked - 'Golden fish and sleeping fish' somebody sings - and this body falls into sobbing heaps. Anyway, I was speaking of Radio Four. Our American readers will not quite grasp the significance of Cricket and the shipping forcecast for fishermen and of Radio Four longwave and listening to something to quintessentially British that even 99% of my own country doesn't grasp how such things weave their way into the very fabric of this nation. 'Shipping Song' is the shipping forecast set to music - places that sound so evocative and they said you could only write songs about American cities? Nobody is going to include 'Rotherham' is a song, but these places..... Viking, Cromatry, Fisher, Dogger, Berman Bight, Humber, Lundy, Fitzroy and Rocktail - among others. I don't even know where these places are and I live here. A soft beat as she sings the names and links them together so softly and yet, at times, strongly. As I stated, her vocal sounds often betray her real strength.

    There is nothing on this record quite as thrilling as 'There U R' which featured on her debut set, yet 'Black Horse' sounds like an instant anthemic folk classic and 'Seagiver' when it gets going has drums and strings and all sorts of lovely things. The ever influential Martin Carthy pops up on 'Two Ravens' lending his weighty support to the cause of Lisa Knapp with acoustic guitar parts amid striking and strident strings.

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    this page last updated 31/08/15

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