"A terrific singer, an excellent guitarist and a truly magnificent songwriter"
AT THE BARRIER
"A Midwinter Miscellany"
"A Midwinter Miscellany" (2020)
- Ashley Hutchings
with special friends Becky Mills and Blair Dunlop
Ashley Hutchings MBE joins forces with BECKY MILLS & BBC Folk Award Winner BLAIR DUNLOP in this brand new 2020 release - "A Midwinter Miscellany".
A hand-picked collection of songs - newly-composed by Becky, Blair and Ashley - and spoken word pieces explore all manner of topics from hibernation to snow to ancient Midwinter customs.
One of The Times' 5 Recommended Christmas Albums for 2020, this wintry but warm-hearted seasonal meditation is ready to soothe listeners weary of all that a tumultuous year has brought.
Becky on The Making Of . . .
"This album was recorded in Ashley's Derbyshire home, deep in the countryside, each song recorded between tractors clattering up and down the lane and Ashley looking out of the door shouting “do it quickly, there’s nothing coming!”
"This actually shaped the authentic feel of the album - we had about two takes for each song and that was all, it felt really live and full of fun!"
Becky on The Tracks . . .
"First is Crocus Poem which is a magical excerpt from a piece by Christopher Smart, and running into my song Crocuses, a song about loss and new life.
Next comes Raggle Taggle Lad, a song written by Ashley and Ken Nicol for their Copper Russet and Gold album. A song of fire light, handsome strangers and the coldest weather in 93 years played by Blair and sung by Becky with Blair harmonising the refrain.
Her Name Was Mary by Ashley and Blair : This is a song about that guiding Star in 0AD. There must have been so much speculation and pompous old wise men claiming they knew the reason for it’s appearance but really - there was only one person who truly knew and her name was Mary. Played and sung by Blair in one take and it really rocks.
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot is a gorgeous little excerpt, perfectly chosen and read by Ashley in his famous soothing baritone.
Then comes Animals' Carol. The words are from Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind In the Willows, newly set to music which I composed specially for this album. It is a song to remind us to be kinder to our animal friends in the winter months because after all, it was them who were the first to bid Noel all those years ago in the stable.
Hibernation is a charming piece written and read by Ashley. Don’t we all wish we could sleep through the coldest months like our furry friends.
Three Angels : originally this was a one verse purpose-written song for the 1955 classic "We’re No Angels", and sung by the three reformed criminals as they present a Christmas dinner with lovingly decorated tree. Ashley wrote three more verses to the song and it sounds as if it’s been a carol for a hundred years. Sung by all of us as a rabble in Ashley's sitting room!
Sweet November : There aren’t many songs about November, so Ashley commissioned me to write one. Sweet November is all about the sweet melancholy of the month and the loaded excitement that there could be the first flurry of snow any day. I play and sing the main part while Blair laces some magic guitar and harmonies around me.
Mahogany Tree is a poem by William Makepeace Thackeray set to music by Judy Dunlop. Played by Blair and sung by Judy and just lovely to hear the pair of them together.
Silence of Snow : with words by Ashley and music by Ruth Angell. There really isn’t anything that affects the senses like the snow; the blinding whiteness and the silence of it are magical. Ashley sings the lead on this one with Blair providing beautiful guitar work on his famous Gretsch.
Ancient Midwinter Customs : a reading by Ashley. This sums up that “bleak mid winter” period perfectly and evocatively.
The Christ Child Lay on Mary's Lap is a poem by G. K Chesterton and set to music by Blair. This is a piece that focuses not so much on the religious aspect, but on the pure love that a mother has for her baby, and a baby for their mother. All that mattered at that deeply personal moment in time was love. Sung and played by myself.
Christmas Wreath should be a smash hit Christmas anthem! With words by Ashley and music by Blair this is another Ashley song that sounds as if it is as old as time but is actually shiny and new. Played and sung by Blair with everyone joining in on the last verse.
Pre-Release CD's signed by Becky Mills : available now
"Sophisticated songs for a sometimes saccharine season, this is a Christmas album with a big dollop of class." - FOLK RADIO UK
“A delightful seasonal offering from Ashley Hutchings, Blair Dunlop - and a truly magnificent songwriter, Becky Mills” - "AT THE BARRIER"
"Animals' Carol is a particular delight" - THE TIMES (5 Recommended Christmas Albums for 2020)
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