In between, the duo took time out to self-record and produce Summat's Brewin', an album that celebrates the 'spirit of the small' whilst exploring the nation's fascination with alcohol, released on their own micro label Hum Records. Walking away from the tried and tested route of a two yearly major record release to self-release a concept album may have seemed a foolish move for a band that were courting so much attention from the national press and BBC Radio 2 and 6. However, for Belinda and Heidi, it was an invaluable opportunity to move into the shadows for a time and explore an alternative path of repose, reflection, listening and sharing, culminating in Shadows.
Shadows conveys the vast expanse of human emotion, from tenderness to sensual melancholy, boundless joy and hope to anger and grief, from dogged determination and grit to the disturbing and deeply unsettling. Under careful consideration are those who live their lives in the dark, whilst others are gently lifted out of the dusk, from Belinda and Heidi's own, deeply personal shadows, to the crimes committed behind closed doors.
At the core of the album is the Steinway grand piano, recorded at MOMA; the Museum of Modern Art, Machynlleth, interwoven with Belinda and Heidi's instinctual, close harmonies, which have been compared with the most celebrated harmony duos from early Simon & Garfunkel to the iconic Kate and Anna McGarrigle. They were recently praised by BBC 6 Music's Tom Robinson; 'They sing together in the way that families do.
Normally you only get that kind of closeness in the voices with family bands like the Coppers and the Watersons' (Songlines, May 2016).
Accompanying the duo on Shadows is a selection of highly expressive, sensitive musicians; Pete Flood (Bellowhead) contributes drums, percussion and sampled bicycle sounds, Michele Stodart (Magic Numbers) provides warm, lyrical electric guitar, bass and ebow, while Andy Seward (Kate Rusby Band) offers beautifully fluid double bass lines, Jude Abbott (Chumbawamba) adds sprinkles of trumpet and flugelhorn alongside the deceptively simple, stirring viola playing of BBC Radio 2 Folk Award winner Rowan Rheingans (Lady Maisery). Shadows is mixed by Neil Ferguson (Leveret, Coope Boyes & Simpson) and mastered by Denis Blackham at Skye Mastering.
***** The Guardian 'Formidably brilliant.' Independent 'Brave, beautiful and full of love.' Martin Simpson 'In the leading ranks of the new wave of folk music aristocracy.' Tom Robinson
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