A while ago Rosie Boulton invited me to write a short essay for Radio 3.
I nearly didn’t do it. I seem to be at a place in my life where I’m turning down everything that comes along.
But, as it turns out, I’m pleased I didn’t back out of this one. It seemed to give me permission to think without
having to shoehorn everything into song. The song can be quite a restricting form. It has to be succinct, focussed,
difficult to justify rambling but this little essay somehow manages to become a succinct ramble…
This year included my first production job making Cracks In The Room the second album by 12th Day. I wanted to take the album to OZ Fritz to mix because I was looking for someone unconstrained by genre. 12th Day are a duo with conservatoire training and folk music DNA but, above all, they are genuinely eccentric and effortlessly original. I’ve been following OZ since I found out he engineered and mixed what are in my opinion Tom Waits’ three best albums.. Alice, Blood Money and Mule Variations.
I say I’ve been following him but he’s not one of those producers who puts himself in the spotlight so you won’t find many Youtube clips of him telling you how brilliant he is. But he is brilliant. Open, focussed and always listening for what’s behind the music maker he’s working with. One of those guys who ends up telling you things about yourself that you hadn’t shared with anyone. What did I take away from working with him? Although he’d done all the mixing he somehow managed to convince me that we had done it together…
I got invited up to the Late Junction studios last week to talk music with Verity Sharp.
We played some Blake Mills and some Seedhill Bruiser.
The first time I met Verity I was struck by what a deep listener she is.
It’s rare to see someone focus on music like she can and since then I have been a great admirer of her work.
She came on The English Acoustic Collective Summer School a while ago and I asked if she could make us a half hour playlist. It’s probably one of my Desert Island Discs. The theme she gave herself was “Truth” and, I couldn’t tell you how, but she nailed it. It had Micronesian singing, a chiff-chaff, a gypsy singer, I think there was some Howard Skempton, some girls singing about their boyfriends while winnowing grain, Tom Waits and a beautiful segue of some grey seals into that tastey choral piece by the bloke with the Norwegian sounding name..
Verity Sharp – national treasure.