Now it's officially released, come and meet the beautiful people who played on my new album "Tall Tales and Home Truths". Plus a few additional, umm, "special" extras . . .
Blair Dunlop is the man behind all those gorgeous droplets of electric guitar that beam out of nowhere into songs like "Ballantyne" and "Wheeldale Crossing". He's a hip megastar in his own right and a former BBC Radio 2 Horizon Award Winner. Please go and check out his lovely new album "Notes from an Island". Anyway, one summer's day, along he came with his Gretsch in tow, plugged it in, and off he went. Hours later we were still strumming and singing along together to "Barry Sheene". He's a gentleman and a Spurs fan like his Dad. Another fond memory is our gig together at Scarborough Market Hall a couple of years ago. In fact he played and sang "Barry Sheene" in front of a 40-ft backdrop of Bazza himself, which was most amusing. Thank you Blair! Anyway on we go...
Oh look! here is Radio 2 Young Folk Award nominee Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne (R). Have you heard him play? I mean, have you??
He plays concertina & melodeon on the album and is quite simply a genius and the first time I saw him in his band "Granny's Attic" my nodules started rotating & didn't stop for ages. So at that moment I resolved to pluck up the courage to see if he'd join this project - and amazingly he said yes :-o
One of my favourite bits he does is where there's a short reprise of an earlier song ("No Tears for my Fisherman") as an interlude between tracks. It's just so lonely sounding and gave me exactly the effect I was hoping for. To be honest, he is far too cool to be hanging around with me anyway. Cool, effortless and destined for massive things. Thank you Cohen!
My good friend Ruth Angell plays violin and pump harmonium on the album. Away from my solo stuff, we also have a "Becky & Ruth" duo show which is a hoot, and we've performed together many times down the years, including Ken Nicol's "Glass Chronicles" and also some trio work with Ashley Hutchings where we get to dress up like a couple of flower child hippies (R).
Her matchless violin brings drama and romance to the album, and as you can also hear she is blessed with one of the most beautiful singing voices imaginable. Ruth also contributes those stately, dignified textures of the Pump Harmonium in "Ballantyne" and "Row Like Grace". She makes very good jam and is just a total good egg.
Here is young master Jonny Short on bass (R). Now me and Jonny go back, all the way to Waking the Witch. He is my rock, my wind beneath my wings, my go-to-man whenever 4 not 6 strings are required, and a total and utter professional who scores 105% on the professional-ometer
Jonny did remind me, quietly but firmly, that cellos are also 4-stringed beasts. "Whyever not" I replied. And so his gorgeous, rustic, woody cello lines put the spine into "Brother's a Farmer", plus those brilliant pizzicatos on "Crocuses". You name it, he 4-strings it. I should also emphasise what a tough job it is to do what he does, when the singer fails to provide any click track, and having to bend and sway with my relaxed time-keeping. The master!
Marc Layton-Bennett is one of the UK's most imaginative drummers and percussionists. I know he can lay down a meaty groove because he's usually out on the road with the low frequency monster mash that is Jah Wobble's Invaders of the Heart. You should also go and see his incredible duo "Big Wave" which is a chilled ambient mash-up. Anyhow all this made him the perfect candidate for brushing things, slapping things with his hands, jingling triangles and winding up his quite impressive thunder-machine on the echoey staircase outside. Like Jonny he did an unbelievable job of figuring out and fitting in to some of my surprisingly looney time-signatures. Thanks Marc!!!
Walt Whittleman & his friends - a special extra mention for the spooky walking sticks which adorn the album cover. My Dad Johnny Mills whittles these guys in his spare time and they just have this little bit of magic and ancestry about them which seemed to fit the whole concept. So we leaned them up against my Grandad's gunshed and snapped away. One of them is Ronald Reagan, another is a horrifying clown and one of them is, I think, very possibly me. He doesn't know where or what or how they'll end up exactly until he starts whittling, and then the figure emerges slowly . . .
Last of all thanks to Ashley Hutchings for some "lock stock and barrels", my hubby for figuring out how to play the Wine Glasses, and Paul Hopkinson, Dave Creffield and Andrew Thompson who worked to get that lovely sound together. Love yeez all, man!