It’s totally natural to feel totally lost.
These are sensations that seep into view upon the first listen of “Emeralds”, part of a double A side release from Hertfordshire folk artist Minnie Birch, that has been lifted off of her acclaimed second album Tethered, released last year.
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Although “Emerald” carries undertones of puzzlement and sadness – it was written post polls of both the Brexit and Trump variety, in addition to a personal realisation of dishonesty – it is generously sprinkled with references to The Wizard of Oz, meaning the song comes across in an almost fairly tale fashion. Some of these references are easy to spot:
“..with a lions mane, and a scarecrow’s heart”
some of them are less so – Minnie Birch added a percussive ‘click’ of her ruby red Dorothy heels to the final track edit. Furthermore, the song carries an overriding hope-filled stand of defiance, that she will:
“…trick her way into getting a new heart.”
Truly not in Kansas anymore, and even if we were, Kansas voted for Trump..
The crescendo of the song carries a number of layers, that tessellate together, to build a collage of differing sounds and dynamics. At no point does it ever feel too much, and at no point does it become too loud, or lose its folk tendencies. Indeed, when asked about the experience of recording this track, Minnie stated;
Lauren (Lauren Deakin-Davis, who produced the single) really embraced the chaos of this song, if Lauren catches the enthusiasm for layering in a song there is no holding her back, she knows exactly when she has a track she can really play around with and we had a lot of fun layering this track and then finding the point at which to hold back. It was one of my favourite studio experiences
The second side of the double A side, is an up to date, and refreshed imagining of “John Barleycorn”, a classic folk tale.
If “Emeralds” is a modern folk track, with echoes of Julie Byrne and Love Like Birds, “John Barleycorn” returns to the very origins of the genre.
A traditional tale, so traditional that (in true folk folklore) its origins are hazy. “John Barleycorn” weaves stories of the ills of alcohol through personification, with Minnie’s haunting vocals dovetailing alongside those of Cian Davies of Molly and the Beekeepers.
This song is best enjoyed in full audio and visual. Minnie’s somewhat ethereal interpretation appeared in Mark Crane‘s short film, based on Leslie Tate͛’s memoirs, ͚Heaven͛s Rage͛. As a ‘thank you’ for her contribution, Mark made Minnie a video, using some of the film footage. Heaven’s Rage documents the worlds of addiction and gambling, but also the power of words as a means of reconnecting oneself with the world.
I had no idea how beautifully crafted and edited it would be. I was proud of the song and planned to release it in some way so more people could hear it and thought about it being a B-side to an album single release but the visual he [Mark] has made and the collaborative element of this song with myself, Lauren, Mark and Cian has led me to really want to get this track out there for more people to hear. It is very special I think.
For fans of:
Laura Marling, Nadia Ried, Julie Byrne.
Minnie Birch’s advice for somebody starting out in music is rooted in collaboration and sharing:
Just get out there and play gigs and go to gigs as much as you can. Build up a circle of musicians you can call friends, share experiences with them and learn from each other. I’d also really recommend following the work of ‘From me to you’ (@FM2UMusic) these are music conferences created by Roxanne De Bastion and are aimed at independent artists to help every step of the way, I’ve found that network to be so valuable to my understanding of navigating PRS, streaming, crowd-funding etc.
was released on July 13th. Find the tracks on her album Tethered here
Catch Minnie Birch ON TOUR all through the summer and beyond. Check out her dates here
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