By Devon Leger.
A haunting, drone-heavy Irish ballad from doom folk duo Cinder Well and Jim Ghedi has just been released! It’s part of Cinder Well’s new single on Free Dirt Records and also includes the track “Pulling Bracken”, an old pagan Scottish song that speaks of the fairy folk.
Cinder Well and Jim Ghedi announce two collaborative tracks of re-imagined traditional material, performed with interwoven vocal harmonies, drones and acoustic soundscapes, released February 15th, 2022. The acts connected while touring in the UK and began collaborating pre-pandemic. The traditional material they chose for this EP resonated with them because of themes that run parallel to their pandemic experience, including travel bans which left families and loved ones stuck on opposite sides of the Atlantic. The two tracks were recorded with Harlan Steinberger at Hen House Studios in Venice Beach, California.
More Info on the song “I Am a Youth That’s Inclined to Ramble”: Amelia first heard a recording of this song in the Irish Traditional Music Archives, sung by Rosie Stewart, from Co. Fermanagh. The ballad is written from the perspective of the male character who is leaving for America, but Amelia and Jim chose to sing it with the female voice leading, showing that the experience and emotions of both characters are interwoven. Each verse evolves instrumentally in accordance with the story.
More Info on “Pulling Bracken” from Amelia of Cinder Well - Jim’s friend sent him a recording of this song sung by Isla Cameron, a Scottish singer raised in Newcastle. The song is sung both from the perspective of a fairy and the person he falls in love with, who collects bracken on the moors. Collecting bracken / foliage for crops was a traditional role for women. ‘Highlander’s Farewell’, the fiddle tune played after, was learned from an Alan Lomax recording of Emmet Lundy (Grayson County, Virginia), in which Lundy explains “the piece was composed in the old country, where they had war in Scotland," and that tune is about a Highlander leaving his sweetheart in the lowlands.
Cinder Well is at the vanguard of a different kind of transatlantic folk revival, one forged amidst the uncertainty of a global pandemic. However, Irish-based songwriter Amelia Baker’s music isn’t nihilistic; instead, it strips traditional forms to their bones, creating a meditative, trance-like space for sonic healing. The sparse soundscapes and haunting stillnesses of her new album No Summer (coming July 24 on Free Dirt Records) are not meant to be paens to loneliness. Rather, Baker was inspired by the rich musical connectivity of the pub scene in Ireland, and her move from California to County Clare to study traditional music of the region. A member of anarchist folk project Blackbird Raum, Baker’s time on the circuit with Irish trad-punk group Lankum eventually led her to a small settlement in County Clare, and to the rich dissonance of her music as Cinder Well, a dissonance caught between worlds and histories.
Recorded by Nich Wilbur (Black Belt Eagle Scout, Angel Olsen), the original songs on No Summer boldly rub shoulders with careful reworkings of traditional Appalachian sources. Baker’s songs parse these transatlantic traditions, and throughout, her remarkable voice cuts to the bone like some ghostly ballad singer bound to sing these words from here to eternity. From the eerily prophetic title track—which presaged a season of canceled shows—to “Our Lady’s”’s imagined stories of spectral abandoned asylum residents, No Summer is as haunting as it is connected, as dark as it is sacred, a kind of ritual healing that’s existed through the ages.