Antlered Crown and Standing Stone

Writing and recording an album is quite some undertaking. Each of my albums have taken on their own personality as each note has been played and recorded. During Herne’s Apprentice I was excited and nervous to see how my music would be received by people. Hills they are Hollow was probably the most gentle ride of all, as I’d found my feet and was thoroughly enjoying finding my way around the recording studio. The difficult third album was not so difficult in the end and, on the whole, Spirit of Albion flowed beautifully.

It was my fourth album The Cauldron Born that gave me my biggest challenge. Songs were coming that were deeply personal (Imramma – A Soul Quest), some political (Only Human), some written with an aim of putting the record straight (Green and Grey), whilst others told of a deep inner need to reconnect to the natural world (Land, Sky and Sea). The Cauldron Born lived up to its title as it felt like it was torn from my very soul, as I looked back into the depths of the Cauldron, and saw my own reflection.

I think it might have been this experience that led me to change direction with my next studio album by recording an album of classic traditional folk songs in Tales from the Crow Man. Some people ask why I did that, and the truth is that I really felt the need to give something back. I’d recorded a few folk songs on my previous albums (such as Raggel Taggle Gypsies and John Barleycorn), and each time I played these songs I became aware of a huge pyramid of ancestors stretching back behind me made up of all of the people who had sung these songs over the centuries. Nobody knows who wrote them, and that to me is part of the magic, but they are still being sung. These old folk songs tell of our human experience, and a folk song has to do that otherwise people will stop singing it, and it’ll disappear. So I chose the songs that had moved me the most over the years and went back into the studio.

I quickly realised that I didn’t just want to re-record covers of these songs, I wanted to really get to know them, explore them, feel them, then make my own mark on them, and that’s what I did, and that’s why Tales from the Crow Man was the hardest album of all. There was a pressure and a responsibility there that I wouldn’t deny. So it took a while, and it also took Cerri coming up with the concept of the Crow Man, this mysterious figure in the field outside the village that had seen the events of all of these songs happen. So he told his tales, and in the end I was really pleased with the result.

Last year I released my first live album As Nature Intended, and it is really lovely to have that available for those who simply cannot get to one my shows, and for those that can, but want to relive the experience.

So where next?

I am now halfway through recording my latest album, and it has already taken on a life of its own. It has taken this amount of time to tell me its name – as I’ve recorded the songs I’ve realised that it is a return to my roots. I am writing and singing about our myths, the land, and the Greenwood again, and it feels wonderful. This return to my roots led me to think about what it is that keeps drawing me to these subjects, and it is the mysticism, the spiritual connection to the beliefs and ways of our ancestors. And when I look into the mists of the green I always find the Lord of the Wildwood staring straight back at me.

So this album will be called Antlered Crown and Standing Stone. I said I was aiming at a March release but as usual I’ve been a little optimistic… So I will keep writing, and recording, and when it’s ready, it will be born.

10 thoughts on “Antlered Crown and Standing Stone

  1. Beautiful, beautiful! It’s such a joy and a privilege to get to hear your work — especially live! Must do that again! — and it adds so much to the experience to hear stories like this of how the albums come to be. I look forward to Antlered Crown and Standing Stone — that first treasured listen alone, getting to know the album, then taking it round to introduce to my friends! Thank you for sharing so much about your creative process!

    ~ รine

  2. While I really like all your albums it is the Cauldron Born which resonates deeply with me too. I’ve always felt like it was touching my soul and singing my life. From the time before I called myself pagan (It wasn’t until I landed at Oakleaf 2003 that I realised I’d come home and my life up till that point made more sense) till now. From the recurring dream I had when I was about 10yrs old of having to go up into the attic with my brother to be fed the brew out of the cauldron by the witch. It used to taste foul and I never liked it. I stopped having that dream when it (the dream) changed and I’d questioned my Mam about why did we have to go up into the attic each month and she’d replied because we have to or bad things could happen but when me and my brother were in the attic and I pretended to like the brew then jumped out the attic onto the landing, jumped 12 stairs in one and ran out the front door of the house. To how I recognise the Winter Solstice as the start of my New Year, for always as a kid I had questioned why New Years day wasn’t the day after Solstice Night, it has always been a more logical starting point in my head. To hear that you felt like that album was torn from your soul takes my understanding of it to a deeper level.

    Yet the song that brings me to tears every time I hear it, is ‘Green Fields of France’, and it can make me sob my heart out and yet I do not know why, I have some thoughts but need to do a bit more work before I can say yes that is the reason or that is one of the reasons. I take my hat off to you sir for the fact that you can sing it without breaking into tears so that the message whatever it turns out to be can get through. It is testimony to your skill as the Bard, long may it continue.

  3. Great to hear your inspiration behind the songs and how each of your albums were born. I only discovered your music about 3 years ago but it resonates deeply with me. I listen to your music when I am painting as I find it inspires my art work, I can let go into the music and just create.
    A group of us came to see you on Monday night in Southsea, and what an amazing evening we had! It was such a pleasure to hear your music ‘live’ and to find that you sound exactly the same as on your albums!! We had a great time, singing along to the songs we knew and listening intently to those we didn’t. Can’t wait to hear your new album.
    BB
    Sam

  4. Looking forward immensely to this new album and like the title! My favourite song of yours is Cauldron Born, it echoes so much what I feel myself especially wanting to stand on a hillside and raise my arms to the moon! So long may the Awen flow in your songs to inspire us!

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