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Nancy Elizabeth releases her third album for The Leaf Label in May 2013, lifting off the lid of her piano and finding new emotion in her transfixing songs. Always one to do things in her own time Nancy closed the doors to temptations and travel and tours and stayed in her small, cold flat in Manchester, with a little piano, a computer and the occasional guest to help out. In small places epic things are dreamt up. You can hear all this in her new suite of songs.
Nancy’s two previous albums are much loved by admirers of sensitive, playful, open-hearted songwriters, as well hip hop mavericks that adore her natural gait and style. She has collaborated with artists such as Paul White, James Yorkston and James Blackshaw and does things her own way. Her albums have drawn on travels (to the Faroe Islands and rural Spain) and was as much influenced by the minimalism of Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich as by the choral harmonies of Judee Sill and the bare expression of Leonard Cohen’s early records.
A deep well of emotion and atmosphere is conjured up by Nancy Elizabeth in her mesmeric songs, all cut through with her warm, natural northern English charm. The piano-led second album for the Leaf Label Wrought Iron received great reviews, winning over fans of all persuasions. She has that sense of mystery combined with a undisguised love of melody, mood and emotion that makes her a real treasure, like John Martyn she draws on folk song but effortlessly moves to other plateaus. However it is the carefully nuanced and songs of this Northern English multi-instrumentalist with a beautifully unadorned voice that makes her such a crowd pleasing performer.
“The essence of Nancy Elizabeth’s voice, to me, is its individuality; that is, somehow in its timbre, in its pitch, her voice has the ability to capture how we experience something as individuals, and how that can be both isolating and a source of much joy”
Laura Barton, The Guardian
“Beautifully, brilliantly bare… a lesson in how economy and atmospherics create true emotion… You’ll find it hard to drag yourself away”
“Her arrangements are as inspired as the songs themselves. Her use of repetition is wonderfully mesmerising, directing you to her lyrics – steamy ones, as it happens, in The Act, otherwise just two chords on an electric guitar and a bit of harmonica. But it’s all you need, really”
Here’s what the critics said about Dan’s most recent album with his band, Dan Haywood’s New Hawks:
"This strong, 32 -song album is positively livid with ideas and resists easy categorisation" THE WIRE MAGAZINE
"A wild-eyed mix of cosmic country and chamber-folk……makes for a thrilling noise." UNCUT MAGAZINE
"Charmingly, it succeeds in being both engaging and oddly uplifting while also being as dour in texture as a North Sea shoreline." INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY
"Defiantly individual…. Surely a future cult classic, it’s raw takes on folk and country are a timeless delight." 24/7 MAGAZINE
"A grand, definitive statement…sacrificing none of his unique poetic elegance for the sake of either conformity or convention " THE LINE OF BEST FIT
"A lifework in its extensive meditations.." SHINDIG MAGAZINE
"The type of record that someone, somewhere is going to fall helplessly in love with - it could even be me…" NORMANS RECORDS
"Epic…fervent and profound" THE FLY
Dan Haywood’s New Hawks are a collection of songs, and also a band, whose epic scope marries transatlantic cosmic roots music with a deeply poetic English folk soul. A rambling, rolling band whose crazed stage presence, with band members swapping instruments and psychic powers amongst themselves and with the audience, has ensured them cult status. The British Isles finally have their own Lambchop - a collective of kindred spirits from across Northern England carefully assembled over time by Haywood, who bring flesh to the album’s smart and ever-shifting arrangements with guitars, fiddles, cellos, drums, percussion and more.
Haywood himself is a compelling frontal figure, orating his adventures with a certain awkward relish and a weird glint in his eye, both the court jester and the king.
Five years in the making and over two hours in length, this thirty-two track, triple vinyl album is both Dan Haywood’s New Hawks debut record and final release. The songs are all based on Haywood’s personal ruminations charting his experience as a lone songwriter, poet and ornithologist travelling around rural Scotland.
We first heard of Dan Haywood in 2006 from some of our friends in Lancaster. We learned that he had been the leader of the Puma-Sutras, one of that city’s most interesting outsider bands of the late 1990s to early 2000s, and that disillusioned on their demise in 2003 he judiciously and secretly chose to relocate to the north coast of Scotland where he lived for the following eighteen months - often exploring unaccompanied, usually studying upland birds and almost always observing the people he met on his travels.
On his return to Lancaster, a reclusive Haywood brought the majority of these songs to life in a month long creative burst and then assembled a band of kindred spirits to perform and capture the arrangements on record. Over time the band expanded to an eight piece and during the following years they painstakingly pieced together the entire New Hawks album in various country churches, schools and village halls near to their home city, while also taking their live performances around England and Scotland.
The finished record is uncompromising in its dramatic, personal and raw interpretation - marrying country rock, folk and psychedelic influences, alongside Haywood’s ardent vocals. The instrumentation and arrangements are sometimes sparse, sometimes exquisite and sometimes cacophonous, with the band utilising guitars, fiddles, cellos, drums, pedal steel, piano and percussion along with some minimal use of bass, bongos and harmonium.
Haywood himself semi-humorously defines his music as “country and northern” or “upland cathartidelia” and alludes to his tunes as “odes to the wilds of Caithness and Sutherland that are one-part therapy and two-parts dementia!.”
Their live shows are fresh and energising - the supple song structures and Haywood’s surreal inter song banter mean that each show is unique. They have played alongside acts including A Hawk And A Hacksaw, Alasdair Roberts and Directing Hand.
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