Sharron Kraus is a folk musician and singer whose solo work and collaborations offer a dark and subversive take on traditional music. Rolling Stone nominated her first album, Beautiful Twisted, as one of their critics’ top releases of 2002, and in the intervening period she has issued five albums under her own name and a number of collaborations with like-minded musicians. She has recorded an album of traditional songs – Leaves From Off The Tree – with Meg Baird and Helena Espvall of Espers, written and recorded an album of songs to celebrate the seasons of the year – Right Wantonly A-Mumming – with an ensemble of traditional folk singers including Jon Boden, Fay Hield and Ian Giles, as well as recording and performing as a duo – Rusalnaia – with Ex Reverie’s Gillian Chadwick, with Tara Burke (Fursaxa) as Tau Emerald and with Irish free-folk collective United Bible Studies.
Sharron’s new album, Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers, is a collection of songs inspired by The Mabinogi – the Welsh medieval tales. The stories collected in The Four Branches of The Mabinogi were written in the 11th Century but contain themes that remain relevant today: love and hatred; battles for power; loss, displacement and migration of peoples; magic and wonder.
The album is full of crystal clear melodies that enhance the intrigue of the tales Sharron is telling. Using harp, recorders and bowed dulcimer, as well as guitar and piano, the songs conjure up the otherworldly settings of the stories, taking the listener to a place where time stands still.
Reviews for Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers
Folk Radio UK: ‘a highly original collection of compositions which can be enjoyed as a folk album like any other, but which repays a much closer listening to reveal a depth of understanding of its sources which shines a light on a classic text too often overlooked’
fRoots (May 2015): ‘a beautifully recorded and immensely atmospheric record, full of alternative tunings, dark modes and devils’ intervals.’
The Active Listener: ‘As otherworldly as the folk tales that inspired the music, this is an album that demands complete, rapt attention and careful listening …I cannot recommend this album highly enough.’
Terrascope Online: ‘at its heart lies the unique and beautiful voice and songwriting of Sharron Kraus, this collection being, quite possibly, her finest to date, each song shining like sunlight on a distant mountain top, timeless and captivating.’
Bright Young Folk: ‘Friends and Enemies; Lovers and Strangers is an album that gives up its secrets slowly. It takes a few listens to get to grips with these deceptively simple songs, but the time and effort involved is more than worth it. An album to live with and to savour.’
Features and Interviews
In Conversation with Sharron Kraus, Wales Arts Review
The Myth and Landscape of Sharron Kraus, Caught by the River
Spiral Earth (forthcoming)