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Almanac [CD]

Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: 9.64
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Almanac + Despite The Snow + Dear River
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Product details

  • Audio CD (7 Feb 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Emily Barker
  • ASIN: B004DWLO38
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,913 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Billowing Sea
2. Reckless
3. Ropes
4. Little Deaths
5. Dancers
6. Pause
7. Openings
8. Calendar
9. Light
10. Witch Of Pittenween
11. Bones

Product Description

Product Description

Stunning new album from the writer of the Bafta-winning Wallander theme tune, Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo return with their strongest set yet 'Almanac' is the third studio album by Anglo-Australian quartet Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo. The album weaves a compelling musical tapestry balancing contemporary influences with classic, folk-rooted songwriting. In this almanac appear stories of love, renewal, the importance of community and our relationship to the earth. Shadowing these lighter themes are darker truths of untold atrocities committed by settlers on indigenous Australians during colonisation (Bones), the mass hysteria regarding a Scottish witch-hunt (Witch of Pittenweem) and good old-fashioned heartbreak. Emily is a compelling songwriter with a gift for melody and words. Her talent is perfectly complimented by the magnificent arrangements of The Red Clay Halo. Throughout the album, the interplay between the band's rootsy ensemble playing, and Barker's agile vocal blend of strength and fragility, is effortlessly engaging. In moments when the four female voices combine to deliver arresting harmonies, it is simply blissful. A session with 6 Music's Cerys Matthews is scheduled for Sunday 23 Jan, ahead of the second single release Calendar on Jan 31 and a UK tour in February. Also available ES2007 'Photos.Fires.Fables' and ES200 'Despite The Snow' Tour dates 2011 09-Feb Leicester, Donkey 10-Feb Bournemouth, Folk Club 11-Feb Portsmouth, Eastney, Cellars 13-Feb Exeter, Fat Pig 15-Feb Brighton, Latest Music Bar 16-Feb Norwich, Arts Centre 17-Feb Halifax, Square Chapel 19-Feb Blackpool, Mellow Yellow 20-Feb Stockton, The Waiting Room 22-Feb Leith, Folk Club 24-Feb London, St Giles in the Fields 25-Feb Cambridge, Folk Club 26-Feb Nottingham, Thekla

BBC Review

What a peculiar place folk finds itself in at the start of 2011. A pleasant place, but nevertheless far from anticipated. With coverage of the recent Radio 2 Folk Awards more prominent than ever, winners like Chris Wood and Bellowhead beamed into the living rooms of new audiences, and folk-influenced artists Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons succeeding at the Brits – the latter outfit were shortlisted for a Grammy, too – it’s clear the genre is in rude health. It is poised, perhaps, for the first time in decades, to properly impress upon the mainstream.

So, what next? More artists in the Mumford mould, taking tropes from traditional songs but filtering influences through pop accessibility? Or great live bands like Bellowhead following (Roots Award-winners) the Levellers into the charts? Perhaps the answer lies somewhere between these two potential points, with artists like Emily Barker. Clearly schooled in the style of Britain’s folk convention and rooted in a time before tweed-clad boys went multi-platinum, acoustic guitars leading the way in a mix making space for accordion, brass and banjo, the Australian singer’s warm tones are easily the equal of any crossed-over artist. Working with the trio of Gill Sandell, Anna Jenkins and Jo Silverston – The Red Clay Halo – Barker adopts a point-man position for some wonderful four-part harmonies which envelop the listener, each vowel draped in the finest velvet.

Barker has already begun to make the right inroads – lead single Little Deaths, a delightfully woozy composition with an airiness that belies its portentous lyrical content ("It’s the little deaths of ideas / That dash me against the rocks"), has enjoyed support beyond folk circles, and her pre-Red Clay Halo releases were recommended by John Peel. Nostalgia, the opening track on Barker’s 2008 LP Despite the Snow, was used as the theme tune to BBC 1’s Wallander, and subsequently won a Bafta. With such fine groundwork laid, Almanac’s 11 tracks of pirouetting melodies, entrancing lyrics and overarching tone of endearing honesty will, surely, guide the singer to a greater level of recognition still. Everything’s here to make it so, certainly.

From the bucolic build that opens Billowing Sea, via the mournful strings of Dancers – which, again, treads a lyrical path to bodies of water – to the sumptuous climax of Bones, a song capping the album’s greatly graphical wordplay with talk of "a wound of a thousand cuts", this is a dream of a record. So perfectly formed is it that, chances are, the listener will need to go around again immediately, to make sure they weren’t imagining anything. A new Marling, then? No, Barker offers something else – vocals that soar and arrangements that shine, but all the time anchored by a strong, sincere respect for the heritage behind an inevitable rise.

--Mike Diver

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ghosts, Grief, The Sea and Other Tales 13 Feb 2011
Format:Audio CD
Although it has its darker moments Australia-born singer/songwriter
Emily Barker's new album 'Almanac' is a largely warm-hearted affair.
Even when she tackles a break-up song like opening track
'Billowing Sea' the almost jaunty arrangement bounces along
helping her to keep her pecker up and her dignity intact.

Her ensemble The Red Clay Halo (Gill Sandell, Jo Silverston
and Anna Jenkins, who provide vocal harmonies and play a
wide range of musical instruments) are further augmented by
Ted Barnes, guitars; Nat Butler, drums; Ali Friend, double bass;
Liz Jones, trumpet and Ben Eshmade on french and flugel horns.
Together they create a gloriously varied sonic tapestry for
Ms Barker to embroider with her confident but pretty voice.

There are eleven songs in the collection. The roots of the
music dig deep into both folk and country traditions and
come back with a barrel-load of riches. Stories! That's
what it is! It is Ms Barker's stories which make 'Almanac' so
special. She has taken time to think carefully about her subjects
and the resulting tales, as well as the luminous music, bring a
sense of time, place and pathos to the project's overall mood.

Some of these compositions are truly delightful. 'Dancers',
co-written with Ted Barnes, is as fresh and clear as the morning
dew. A simple melody full of longing and (here as elsewhere) a
palpable scent of the sea. The waves are never far away.

In 'Pause' Ms Barker sings : "Who am I without your love?"
The song is a real heart-breaker. (Who among us has not asked
the same question at least once in our lives?!) The pace is
slow; the organ and guitar ponderous; the harmonies sublime.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year contender 28 Jun 2011
By Garold
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I can't believe there are currently only 2 other reviews for this brilliant album! I was attracted to it as it features the theme for "The Shadow Line" and I had already enjoyed the Wallander theme so was ready to enjoy it. The first listen confirmed the potential. What I wasn't ready for was how it grabbed me as I listened further and the beauty and complexity of arrangements and harmonies took hold. Delicate folk songs lead to powerful crescendos. Stories abound. There are things for everyone here. You can feel the ghosts of great performers who have gone before - name your own, depending on your age! Boundaries blur between folk and country and Emily has a voice that copes with blues and jazz. Yet the outcome is unique rather than merely derivative. I have enjoyed many of the artists and albums in the latest folk revival but this is certainly up there with the best.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leicester Bangs Review (2011): 7 Mar 2011
By Leicester Bangs TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo - Almanac (Everyone Sang)
With Mumfords picking up all sorts of gongs, and Bellowhead and the Unthanks cleaning up at mainstream summer festivals and fronting their own shows on BBC4, folk music is definitely on the up.

Australian born Emily Barker (with The Red Clay Halo) has already turned heads with her 2008 offering "Despite The Snow", and if greater success follows with "Almanac" expect to start seeing and hearing Barker and her band everywhere. Without a doubt, they have the potential to be huge. Their songs seem tailor-made for radio play; the arrangements drip lavish strings and each comes fully formed with the sort of vocal hooks pop fans crave - and what fine vocals they are.

It's a winning combination that will appeal across the board and even the gloomiest amongst us must take pleasure at the gypsy excess of "Ropes" or the lightheaded thrill of "Little Deaths". 9/10.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Investment 2 Jan 2012
By Fantasy Lore TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
I would describe the sound of Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo as a cross between Amy MacDonald and June Tabor, but without the resonance of either, at least not in the beginning. In fact, it required more than a few plays of the entire album before I was struck by the high quality of `Almanac'.

Like many, I purchased the album having been impressed after hearing a version of one of the tracks used as the title sequence for a television series, in my case `Pause' adapted for the BBC series, `The Shadow Line'. Consequently, I was disappointed at first by the album version of that track, which differs more than a little from that arrangement of the song. The album version is more stripped bare with a reduced tempo and there's not nearly the same haunting quality to Barker's vocals. I was equally disappointed that even this inferior version still represented the most haunting track on the album.

But this is a folk album and the style of production of the `Pause' track for the television series clearly altered that track in a way that removed the folksy sound. I was quite happy that `Almanac' turned out to be a folk album, it just came as a bit of a surprise- I hadn't read the BBC Review in the description such was my eagerness to purchase! However, if you're not a folk fan my word of warning would be that you'll enjoy the album less if `Nostalgia' from Barker and her band's debut album `Despite the Snow' used as the theme tune for the BBC series `Wallander' and `Pause' used as the theme tune for the BBC series `The Shadow Line' have been your only taste of Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo.

After the first few listens I was not particularly captivated by the album; there seemed to be few stand-out tracks besides `Pause' and I found Barker's vocals too washed-out.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good CD
Excellent CD I've tried a couple of her albums and I really like the sound, I would definitely recommend her
Published 1 month ago by stephen downton
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I heard them on the radio - sounded different & atmospheric. I had high hopes for the album but was disappointed, just not my type of thing...anyone want it for a fiver? :-)
Published 11 months ago by Peter Foot
5.0 out of 5 stars Almanac by Emily Barker
A great CD & Emily Barker has a Beautifull voice , well accompanied by the Red Clay Halo. A Great buy !!
Published 12 months ago by clare hogan
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful artiste
Having had the wonderful opportunity to be entertained live by Emily Barker and her Red Clay Halo at the Little Rabbit Barn in Ardleigh, Essex (I had previously been introduced to... Read more
Published 13 months ago by disappointed
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely album ......
I bought this, like other reviewers, based on the song "Pause" being the haunting theme to the wonderful "The Shadow Line" shown on the telly recently. Read more
Published on 13 Jan 2012 by L. Thomas
5.0 out of 5 stars Pause
I bought this ablum for the song pause which I heard fro hit BBC one show Shadow Line, the rest of the ablum is great which some great song on it
Published on 2 Dec 2011 by Mr R
4.0 out of 5 stars Coming out of the shadows.....
Went to her gig at the The Jericho in Oxford before I bought the album, not least as result of her soundtracking 'The Shadowline' on TV recently;I was not disappointed. Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2011 by robwat
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasant discovery ....
Like most reviews here, my interest was brought about by the the 'Shadow Line' TV theme .... but me and the wife never got beyond episode two! Read more
Published on 21 Sep 2011 by Packer
2.0 out of 5 stars Thought I'd love it
I got this because of the theme tune to Luther on BBC1 - I if'd and butted because I'd only heard the one track. I must admit I didn't really like the rest of the CD.
Published on 8 Aug 2011 by JSL
5.0 out of 5 stars Emily Barker & Red Clay Halo
Knew nothing about Emily & red Clay. Just googled looking for theme music for Shadow Line (Brilliant!)Well chuffed with outcome and have bought another album already!
Published on 1 Aug 2011 by Mr. S. Vernon
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