Independent – CovenCD01

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Coven – the  six piece collaboration of high flying folkies found themselves drawn together three years ago  to celebrate  International Women’s Day. Their mission evolved into a partnership which  now results in their first EP which gathers a choice collection of material relevant to the cause.

For the record, ‘the six’ compromise the sophisticated harmonies and instrumental prowess of Lady Maisery – Rowan Rheingans, Hazel Askew and Hannah James – who are joined by the regular Folk Award and surely due their reward soon, nominees O’Hooley and Tidow plus the explosive presence of Grace Petrie, often classed as a DIY folk singer cum activist. All established in their own right yet finding common ground and a strong sense of unity

Six musicians and six songs over twenty minutes proves more than enough to make their impact and turn a head to their message. The less is more fairy calls to make  her point. Six voices too making that point across a careful selection of six tracks which demonstrate a potency and  a purpose while not falling  short on sensitivity and delicacy.

And the music? A blend of the recognisable and something with a twist, with the familiar  ‘Coil & Spring’ from the O’H&T catalogue,  a document of the Pussy Riot protest, setting the tone while offering the EP title. The added voices adding strength and purpose. Kate Bush’s ‘This  Woman’s Work’ is (a) a more obvious choice yet (b)  one of the key moments amongst several peaks, yet a slow burner which grows in stature with repeated listening is Maggie Roche’s ‘Quitting Time’. An gorgeous easy Eagles/Crosby Stills & Nash vibe with possibly the best harmony combination on the set, it’s what they call the “free spirited theme of letting go” that provides a more relaxed moment yet carries the same subtle message.

More obvious is Grace Petrie’s  ‘If There’s A Fire In Your Heart’ – an uplifting piece offering light in the darkness and one which features what sounds like  the instrumental tour de force that is Heidi Tidow’s bells. It sums up the Coven philosophy – “It only needs to be a candle, every fire in the world started from one spark…Take the fire in all our hearts, we will be more than they can handle” whilst recalling  the message behind Peter Gabriel’s ‘Biko’ which in 1980 led with “you can blow out a candle but you can’t blow out a fire”

More than you can handle?  Certainly a formidable alliance.

Watch O’Hooley & Tidow’s 2014 acoustic version of  ‘Coil & Spring’ here:

Online links:

The Coven Facebook page

The  O’Hooley & Tidow   website

They are  also on Facebook  and tweet  as @OHooleyandTidow

Grace Petrie website  and she is on Facebook and tweets as @gracepetrie

Lady Maisery website while they are on Facebook  and tweet as @LadyMaisery


All words by Mike Ainscoe. You can find more of Mike’s ramblings  on Louder Than War at his author’s archive. He can be found on Facebook and his website is www.michaelainscoephotography.co.uk

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Mike has been contributing to Louder Than War since 2012, rising through the ranks from contributor to Sub Editor and now Reviews Editor. He brings his eclectic taste to the table with views on live shows (including photography) and album reviews, features and interviews from rock to metal to acoustic and folk.


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