‘The Beautiful & The Actual’ from Rosie Hood – simply a beautiful album(June 19, 2017)
Rarely does a word encapsulate the essence of an album. There’s always the need to expound more to express the nuances of what you’re hearing. However many words are finally expended on ‘The Beautiful & The Actual’ from Rosie Hood, one is all that’s required: ‘beautiful’. This singularly beautiful piece of work encompasses both tradition and originality, combining both invention and interpretation of music and lyrics, delivered by an exquisitely evocative voice.
The background to this album lies in the words of folksong collector Alfred Williams “I have tried to depict the beautiful and the actual”, written in 1923 to introduce his book Folk Songs of the Upper Thames. Rosie states: “I hope that my interpretations of these songs do the same”. In my view ‘hope’ has little to do with it, it’s more like ‘certainty, although one understands the presence of humility even with an artist possessed of a voice this pure. I would say that with ‘The Beautiful & The Actual’ that Rosie has achieved her objective. From the traditional ‘Lover’s Ghost’, the elemental narrative of ‘A Furlong of Flight’, through a tale of falsehood and murder in ‘William’s Sweetheart’ to the tragic ‘Lord Lovel’, this album is undiluted pleasure. There’s Rosie’s powerful tale ‘Dorothy Lawrence’ disguised as a man to report from the front line in WW1 and the tongue in cheek, almost Chaucerian story ‘Baker’s Oven’, the unforgettable ‘Adrift, Adrift’, and her incredibly haunting and soul-tearing version of John Archbold’s ‘Hills of Kandahar’
Bringing ‘The Beautiful & The Actual’ to life are Rosie Hood (vocals, tenor guitar, fiddle) with on selected tracks Ollie King (melodeons) The Barber Sisters (strings) Jefferson Hamer (guitar, vocals) Emma Smith (double bass) Emily Portman (vocals) and Tom A. Wright (lap steel, banjo).
Review: Tim Carroll