My new trio CD ("A Midwinter Miscellany") with Ashley Hutchings & Blair Dunlop is finished!! Available here : https://www.beckymillsgigs.co.uk/online-store-1
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!” Ashley lives in the most beautiful (and remote) place, it's a perfect spot to get creative (with or without the farm machinery).
We had about two takes for each song and that was all, it felt really live and full of fun. Ashley's son, Blair Dunlop, produced the album. There's also an appearance by Judy Dunlop (Blair's Mum) who has the most beautiful voice. Really when you think about it, it was quite a family occasion and I felt very privileged to be part of it.
About the tracks...
First up is Crocus Poem which is a magical excerpt from a piece by c18 English poet Christopher Smart. Ashley's unmistakeable rich baritone immediately takes you somewhere lovely and then this runs seamlessly into my song Crocuses, a song about loss and new life.
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 myself, with Blair harmonising the refrain. I've played this track live many times in my old duo with Ken Nicol and it's a heck of a song to remember, but really out of this world.
Her Name Was Mary by Ashley and Blair : This is a song about that guiding Star in 0AD. If you think about it, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
To ORDER a CD please click here : https://www.beckymillsgigs.co.uk/online-store-1