COVEN: UNHOLY CHOIR
Independent – CovenCD01
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:
The Coven Facebook page
The O’Hooley & Tidow website