Thursday 29 April 2010

Bush, Baby

My new book, Under The Ivy: The Life & Music of Kate Bush, is published next week by Omnibus Press. I will still be updating this site with news of other work (such as today’s Duke Special piece) but I’d imagine that most of the action in the immediate future will be taking place over at my new blogsite for Under The Ivy, which can be found here. As well as posting the odd extract there, I’ll be adding reviews, news, extra info etc. as and when appropriate. I hope to see some of you over there.

A long, adapted extract from the book forms the cover story in this month’s Uncut, concerning the circumstances surrounding the making of Bush’s 1985 classic album, Hounds of Love. In that issue I also review the new Hold Steady album and a few other bits and bobs, and there's a great interview with Merle Haggard by Andrew Mueller. Go find.

Sir Duke

Witty, eclectic and often dazzling, The Stage, A Book And The Silver Screen acts as an elegant rebuttal to anyone who would argue that the trend for consuming music in bite-sized chunks has dulled the ambition of songwriters. One album, The Silent World of Hector Mann, takes its cue from Paul Auster’s 2002 novel A Book of Illusions; the other features songs Wilson wrote for a new stage adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, while the EP features the first ever recording of five songs written in 1950 by Kurt Weill for an abandoned musical version of Huckleberry Finn.

I venture inside the dazzling mind of Duke Special

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Rokia's Road

Rokia TraorĂ© has always seemed most comfortable creating at trysting points, darting between different worlds without ever quite belonging to any one of them. The daughter of a Malian diplomat, as a child her favourite locations were airports, “this middle point between two places; the idea of leaving a place to go to another one was the most interesting part of my childhood”. As a musician, too, the singer and songwriter gets a creative kick out of being in transit, moving from Mozart to Billie Holiday, from folk to jazz, in order to escape what she calls the “kind of jail” of world music.

Read my interview with the sublime Rokia Traoré here.

Friday 23 April 2010

A Tangled Web

You can read my – somewhat truncated, though much tweeted - feature about the inner workings of band websites in today’s Guardian. One of the artist’s featured, Sam Carter, is well worth checking out. He won best newcomer at this year's BBC Folk Awards and his website is here.

Here’s a clip of him in action, doing sweet justice to a John Martyn classic.

I also review another promising folkie - and another John Martyn fan - Dan Arborise at theartsdesk.

Friday 16 April 2010

Oh Sister

Fahey has always seemed suspicious of mainstream success, identifying more with Patti Smith – “a guiding light” – than Ginger Spice. Born in County Meath to Irish parents, she was raised in London and feels like a “weird hybrid of two cultures. I’ve got an Irish passport but an English accent; I think that’s a key factor to who I am. I’m an outsider wherever I go, but I’ve made my peace with that.”
I talk to the wonderfully contrary Siobhan Fahey about reviving Shakespears Sister - and refusing to play Stay.

Monday 12 April 2010


"Despite the fuss and fluster, Marling comes across as a cool customer. At one stage she quite reasonably points out: “Nobody knows what I’m really like unless they’ve been with me, just like I don’t know what you’re like when you’re not interviewing.” Fair enough. She is collected and self-assured, with the suggestion of something more impulsive and elemental lurking just below the surface. A lot like her music, in fact."

I speak to Ms Marling - no longer blonde, now a demure brunette - about religion, fame and the trials of having a Top 5 album in I Speak Because I Can.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Back! Back! BACK!!

Right. Crikey. Been a while.

Ridiculously busy what with one thing and another, with more news to come soon on lots of new writing and the next book. But first, catch up time.

To summarise:
  • Big piece in the Guardian on poetry and music, featuring Mike Scott and WB Yeats (pictured).
  • Big piece in the Herald on Lou Reed.
  • More pieces in the Herald, on Toumani Diabate, John Hiatt, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Brendan Benson and Angie Stone.
  • Some pieces on theartsdesk, including a review of a beguiling Karine Polwart gig and some words about some albums here and here.
  • Lots of stuff in the last few issues of the wonderful Word, including interviews with Ash, Lou Reed again, and reviews of a fab new chamber-opera concept album by Anais Mitchell, as well as some books and DVDs.
  • And some reviews in the new issue of Uncut. Look out for more from me there.
Let's not leave it so long next time.