shirley collins

don’t know whether I should mention this, you know what sensitive and fragile souls these folk people are, but we did manage to rescue a stash of neglected Shirley Collins albums from a local charity shop just a few weeks ago. Unbeknownst to us, around the same time Domino had been making eyes and overtures in her general direction in an attempt to coax her out of her recording retirement. The result of which this November sees the release of her first album in 38 years. Entitled ‘lodestar’, it’s an eclectic collection, a journey in musical appreciation more so, gathering together songs English, American and Cajun covering a period going backwards from the 50’s to the ancestral roots of folk in medieval times. From that set ‘death and the lady’ here revisited – a version of which she originally did with her sister Dolly for their 1970 collaboration ‘love, death and the lady’ – is a ghostly tale of a young woman one day happening upon Death who has come take her, a conversation ensues as she tries to bargain for life to no avail. Revisited some five decades later, Collins weaves a delicately lilting spectral both graceful and humbling, enriched and entwined in a tapestry that’s timeless, this folk ghost light is pressed upon a simple and plaintive reading that’s as touching as it is haunting, while I’m here I must admit I do love the frail Fahey phrasings and the genteel riff scythes, admirers of the hare and the moon will flock to swoon.

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