Amelia’s Magazine | An interview with Georgia Ruth and review of debut album Week of Pines

Georgia Ruth by Gemma Cotterell
Georgia Ruth by Gemma Cotterell.

Week of Pines is the beautiful long playing debut album by Welsh singer-songwriter and harpist Georgia Ruth, it’s creation prompted by a return to Wales. Love that has been lost is tempered with joy at being home, and in the solitude of a Snowdonia studio she has melded together a plethora of influences to create an album that has an all pervading sense of calmness. Opening track and album namesake Week of Pines is a highlight, the gorgeous melody swinging along to a hastening drum beat. Welsh tune Codi Angor harnesses more obvious folk influences, and Dovecote includes the atmospheric clanging of bells, Georgia’s voice drifting in and out of the instrumental with hypnotic grace. Seeing You Around and In Luna trace the troubles of lost love, her vocals soaring in delicate arcs around the harp. A lonesome harmonica takes pride of place in Old Blue, a reinvigorated Appalachian song made popular by Joan Baez, and the album finishes with the slow beat of Winter, redemptive lyrics bringing the album to a fitting close.

Georgia Ruth
Week of Pines features songs in both Welsh and English – but I believe you did not even grow up speaking Welsh. How did you get to the position where you were confident to write and sing in it?
I grew up bilingually from the age of 4, when my family moved from South Wales to Aberystwyth and I started going to a Welsh language primary school. From then on, the two languages were an integral part of my everyday identity. And it’s very much true of my music, too. There are some things I feel only able to express in Welsh, and vice versa. But I knew the album would have songs in both languages.

Week Of Pines by Georgia Ruth.

You have said that most of your songs come from personal experiences – what experiences have made this record?
On the next album I’ve told myself that I’m not allowed to write one song that relates to my actual life, just to see how I get on! Narcissistic bugger. But in many ways Week of Pines is a record about coming home. I moved back to Wales a couple of years ago, after living in London and Brighton, and the friends and relationships that I found waiting for me here have been so important and strengthening.. It’s a happy record, sun through the leaves stuff, despite some moments in the shade!

Georgia Ruth by Laura Griffin
Georgia Ruth by Laura Griffin.

Why did you decide to learn the harp, and what is the best thing about it?
I started learning when I was 7. But it wasn’t quite my choice. In our primary school, the instrument you got was very much dependent on your place in the register. I wanted clarinet (the instrument of the enviable 10 year olds) but being a Williams did not stand in my favour. All the Evanses and Griffithses got the clarinet. So they offered me the harp, and I said yes! The best thing about the harp is that it’s a great conversation starter. You’re standing at the bus stop with one of these beauties stood next to you, someone’s going to want to ask you about it! That being said, it’s a nightmare to get it on planes. That is absolutely the worst thing about it. 

Georgia Ruth by Rhi Pardoe
Georgia Ruth by Rhi Pardoe.

You happily meld influences such as sea shanties, appalachian tunes and traditional folk. What were you listening to as you grew up?
Lots of different stuff! My parents would play a lot of Hank Williams, American and British folk music, Paul Simon, Melanie. And then I was learning these Welsh folk songs in school. When I hit my teens, it was the solo women who took up most of my earspace: Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Aimee Mann, Sandy Denny

Georgia Ruth
What was it like to record in the middle of Snowdonia?
Very quiet! Bryn Derwen is such a wonderful, peaceful studio. We were there for a week in the middle of August, and the air was thick and heavy with the smell of the eucalyptus trees. At times, you weren’t sure which country you were in! It was a very happy time. 

Georgia Ruth by youdesignme
Georgia Ruth by youdesignme.

This record has been described as a homecoming – what prompted the move back to Wales and will you be staying for the near future?
I just woke up one morning in Brighton, and realised that I missed Wales terribly. And I came back! I’m definitely very happy here, so yes: I’m not going anywhere. Unless someone forces me to live in sun-filled San Francisco, I would have to concede to their wishes… 

Georgia Ruth
What can musicians find in Wales that is not so easy to find elsewhere?
Mountains! Certainly for me, it’s been the sense of fraternity and support amongst the musicians here in Wales that has been the most amazing. In London, I often felt quite isolated as a musician. I didn’t feel as much a part of a community as I do now. And that’s been so key to the making of this record. I was all but ready to give up, and then I came home, met these remarkable people, and thought: nope! 

Georgia Ruth by youdesignme
Georgia Ruth by youdesignme.

Where can fans hear you over the course of 2013?
I’ll be touring the album in May and June with the band (current list of dates is on with a possible few more to be added) and I’m particularly excited about playing in Spillers Records in Cardiff on the day of release. It’s such a brilliant record shop, that’ll be a real privilege. 

Georgia Ruth Week of Pines album cover
Week of Pines by Georgia Ruth is released on 20th May 2013 by Gwymon Records.

Categories ,Aberystwyth, ,Aimee Mann, ,americana, ,brighton, ,British folk music, ,Bryn Derwen, ,cardiff, ,Codi Angor, ,Dovecote, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Georgia Ruth, ,Gwymon Records, ,Hank Williams, ,Harp, ,In Luna, ,interview, ,Joni Mitchell, ,Kate Bush, ,Laura Griffin, ,Melanie, ,Old Blue, ,Paul Simon, ,Rhi Pardoe, ,Sandy Denny, ,Seeing You Around, ,Snowdonia, ,South Wales, ,Spillers Records, ,wales, ,Week of Pines, ,Welsh folk songs, ,Winter, ,youdesignme

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Mary Epworth at St Pancras Old Church: Live Review

Mary Epworth by Gemma Cotterell

Mary Epworth by Gemma Cotterell

Hidden away between Mornington Crescent and St Pancras railway station, in that relatively little known area of London that is Somers Town, St Pancras Old Church seems to be undergoing a bit of a reinvention. A church with a long and interesting history (and that’s before we get to the impressive churchyard, with its links to the Romantic Poets, the American Revolution and The Beatles), over the last couple of years it has begun to put on small gigs by many an up-and-coming artist.

Mary Epworth by Sylwia Szyszka

Mary Epworth by Sylwia Szyszka

Escaping a bitterly cold evening, I was immediately struck by how small the place is (apparently a capacity of only around 100 people), especially compared to Union Chapel, another church-cum-music venue about a mile or so to the east. With the scent of incense wafting through the door, I could see that all the seats were already taken, with any late-comers making do with standing room only at the back.

YouTube Preview Image

Mary Epworth by Gilly Rochester

Mary Epworth by Gilly Rochester

Playing a venue such as this must have been a bit of a contrast for Mary Epworth, having been at SXSW in Texas a couple of weeks before. Tonight was the first appearance on a whistle-stop UK tour, before some festival dates into the summer. Epworth has been ploughing her own particular musical furrow for a couple of years now, influenced by as much by English folk as by 1960s West Coast psychedelia. She gained recognition following an appearance at a tribute concert to Sandy Denny, and the release of her debut album, Dream Life, last year received widespread praise.

Mary Epworth by Rhi Pardoe

Mary Epworth by Rhi Pardoe

With a slightly reduced version of her trusty Jubilee Band (certainly compared to the gig I saw at the Lexington last summer), Epworth took centre stage in a sparkly black dress and with drum sticks in hand, leading the beat on a snare drum and (drummers may correct me here) a tom-tom placed either side of her. With support from Jim Hanner and Will Twynham, variously swapping bass, keyboards, drums and an upright piano and the redoubtable Citizen Helene supplying guitar and harmonies, she led us through a selection of songs largely drawn from Dream Life.

Mary Epworth by Gabriel Ayala

Mary Epworth by Gabriel Ayala

Playing with a more compact band meant that a lot of the songs felt more, not necessarily stripped down, but intimate, which certainly suited the setting (especially with the low level lighting, which added to the atmosphere). That said, Epworth’s soaring vocals, particularly on Heal This Dirty Soul, could more than fill the room. There was a mournful Two For Joy, with its simple organ chords feeling suitably “churchy” (as Epworth quipped when describing some of her set tonight), and the country tinged Sweet Boy, which sounds not unlike something that Caitlin Rose might come up with. Rather unexpected was a cover of The Four Horsemen by Greek prog-rockers Aphrodite’s Child. Don’t think anyone saw that coming!

YouTube Preview Image

Mary Epworth by Sam Parr

Mary Epworth by Sam Parr

The most well known songs, Black Doe and Long Gone, popped up towards the end (Epworth admitting that she actually wrote the latter about a dog), and there was a brief encore, accompanied solely by Twynham on keyboards, to round off the evening for a most appreciative audience.

Mary Epworth by Carley Chiu

Mary Epworth by Carley Chiu

After a bit of a break, Mary Epworth and the Jubilee Band will head off to play at the Great Escape Festival and the Wood Festival, followed by the Lounge On The Farm Festival. There don’t appear to be any new records ready for release on the immediate horizon, but I’m sure that when they do appear, they will be just as special.

Categories ,Aphrodite’s Child, ,Beatles, ,Caitlin Rose, ,Carley Chiu, ,Citizen Helene, ,folk, ,Gabriel Ayala, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Gilly Rochester, ,Jim Hanner, ,Jubilee Band, ,Lounge On The Farm Festival, ,Mary Epworth, ,psychedelia, ,Rhi Pardoe, ,Sam Parr, ,Sandy Denny, ,St Pancras Old Church, ,sxsw, ,Sylwia Szyszka, ,the Great Escape, ,The Lexington, ,union chapel, ,Will Twynham, ,Wood Festival

Similar Posts:

Amelia’s Magazine | Music Listings


Monday 1st December

The Lady: A Tribute to Sandy Denny, Royal Festival Hall, London
An evening of songs from the back catalogue of one of the most influential female folk singers, Sandy Denny. Various artists including Marc Almond, P.P. Arnold and Johnny Flynn will be performing songs from her Fairport Convention days as well as her solo career. Should be a really interesting night in light of the current trend for new female folkies and a timely tribute to one of the godmothers of the genre.

Asobi Seksu, Hoxton Bar and Grill, London

Sweet, fun indie-pop from Brooklyn. Should be a good one for dancing.

Gallows, The Macbeth, London

Noisy punks celebrate collaboration with Atticus clothing range.

Slow Club, Jay Jay Pistolet and special guests, Union Chapel, London

A lovely gentle way to start the week with this folky-country duo who will hopefully be celebrating the first day of December with a performance of their Christmas single, released next week.

Tuesday 2nd December

Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed and the Trueloves, Oran Mor, Glasgow
Big-voiced retro soul.

Deerhoof, ULU, London

In the UK for one night only, this much-loved San Francisco band’s staccato, rough-round-the-edges punk pop is even better live.

Ten Kens, The Duchess, York

Anyone who has a blurry picture of people snogging on their record sleeve is a good bet for a messy live show and these Canadian grungers are reportedly no exception. Should be good in this small venue too.

Baby Dee, Union Chapel, London

New album produced by Will Oldham, harpist on Anthony and the Johnsons first album and with Andrew W.K. providing bass on her new record, this transsexual musician’s musical pedigree is assured.

Wednesday 3rd December

Kitty, Daisy and Lewis single launch, Madame JoJos, London
Snappily dressed, hearse-driving siblings playing rockabilly at their single launch party.

Liam Finn, Night and Day, Manchester

Introspective folk.

The Wave Pictures, Club Fandango, St Aloysius Social Club, London

Thursday 4th December

Vivian Girls, The Social, Nottingham
Uber-hyped Brooklyn girl group bring their shoe-gaze tinged grunge-pop to the UK. Time to see if they live up to their recorded promise as a live act.

The Unbending Trees, The Luminaire, London

Leonard Cohen-influenced Hungarians.

Dirtbombs, Faversham, Leeds

Fuzzed out rock and soul. Catch them before they play at the weekend’s All Tomorrow’s Parties.

Friday 5th December

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Princess Charlotte, Leicester
Fuzzy pop from yet another hip hyped Brooklyn band.

Dan Black, Barfly, London

New single ‘Yours’ has been receiving lots of radio play.

Saturday 6th December

Dead Kids, single launch ‘Into the Fire’, Push, Astoria 2
Should be pretty sweaty and heavy.

I Am Ghost, White Rabbit, Plymouth

Bringing some metal to the South West.

Under One Sky, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

John McCusker’s diverse folk composition.

Sunday 7th December

Tanlines, Old Blue Last, London

The Brooklyn invasion continues. Did they all club together and hijack a plane from JFK International?

Bon Iver, Victoria Apollo, Dublin

Really bummed about breaking up with some girl called Emma, he headed into the woods alone and wrote an album about it. He must be feeling a bit better as he’s spreading the heartache on a UK tour.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Rock City, Nottingham

Lovely duets from surprisingly compatible artists.

Categories ,Asobi Seksu, ,Baby Dee, ,Bon Iver, ,Dan Black, ,Dead Kids, ,Deerhoof, ,Gallows, ,I Am Ghost, ,Jay Jay Pistolet, ,Johnny Flynn, ,Kitty Daisy and Lewis, ,Listings, ,Marc Almond, ,Music, ,P.P Arnold, ,Sandy Denny, ,Slow Club, ,Tanlines, ,Ten Kens, ,The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, ,The Unbending Trees, ,Vivian Girls

Similar Posts: