My performance of Martin Arnold’s ‘The Gay Goshawk’ with Martin, Angharad Davies and the Scottish Symphony Orchestra at Tectonics, was aired on Radio 3’s New Music Show last night and you can listen again here.
Chanctonbury Rings can now be pre-ordered from Ghost Box.
Nice new review in from The Sound Projector: ‘Immaculate album and recommended to lovers of Kraus, folk music, or just good songs.’
The end of last year was a busy time for me and I got behind on news. So, belatedly, here’s a roundup of some reviews and articles that appeared late in 2018.
There were print reviews for Joy’s Reflection in Shindig! – 5 stars, ‘Not only is this probably Sharron Kraus’ best work, it’s one of the best albums you’ll hear this year.’ – RnR – 4 stars, ‘dreamy, haunting music’ – and Prog magazine – ‘a fine showcase for Kraus’.
There was a nice review of my Ghost Box single at Concrete Islands – ‘The overall effect is more akin to Alan Garner’s Weirdstone of Brisingamen than Tolkien however. Garner brings one close to the magic without getting rid of the pylons. So too do Sharron Kraus and Ghost Box’ – and MOOF magazine reviewed the Cafe Oto show I played together with Beautify Junkyards. Ned Raggett wrote a kind of retrospective feature on my work for Bandcamp.
Joy’s Reflection was included in a handful of end of year lists: FRUK, Concrete Islands, music won’t save you, and I was asked to contribute to Delusions of Adequacy‘s end of year list by choosing a favourite album of the year. I chose Aby Vulliamy’s Spin Cycle, which I’d been listening to over and over after playing shows with Aby in October.
I’ve been feeling bad about not keeping up with social media, not doing my best to publicise events I’m involved in, not making enough of an effort to promote my music, not taking advantage of social media channels to share my ideas with others. At the start of the year, as I always do, I spent time reflecting on the passing year and thinking about what the new year has in store; what to hope for, focus on and work towards. I tend to form resolutions and find doing so helpful and motivating. One of the things I had on my possible resolutions list this year was ‘blog and tweet more’ and yet, more than halfway through January and I’d not yet got my act together.
I started wondering why, and instead of beating myself up for being lazy or lacking in motivation, asked myself what it is about the kind of writing blogging and tweeting seems to require that I find unappealing. I have no problem motivating myself to work on other writing – quite the opposite. I’ve written a journal since I was a teenager and look forward to sitting and writing extended journal entries about what’s been going on in my life, what I’m thinking about, what I’ve been reading, watching, listening to. I write with a cup of coffee, either in my favourite chair at home or in a cafe. Working on music and songwriting is something I look forward to and find real happiness in. I’ve recently been pulling together ideas from essays I’ve written and conference presentations I’ve given, with the idea of turning them into a book. I’m making good progress on that project and the days when I’m free to work on it are days I treasure. Given that I’m a willing journaler and regular chronicler, I’d expect that blogging and tweeting would be an extension of this and come naturally to me – why doesn’t it?
Reflecting on the forms of writing I love, I realise that they all start with an inward-looking phase: I spend long periods of time alone musing, imagining, wrestling, researching, searching and making. It’s only after that phase, if I’m lucky, that there’s something I can share with others. One of the wonderful things about music is that the solitary aspects of creating are balanced by the social aspects of playing, collaborating and performing, which stops me from becoming a complete hermit! I seem to need a lot of solitary time – maybe my ideas unfurl relatively slowly and need more nurturing. Maybe this is just an excuse, but I don’t think so: it’s more important to me to get on with creating than to be giving a running commentary on my life. Having said that, I admire people who make social media their own and I find out about a lot of interesting stuff as a result of people who share more actively than I do on social media. So I’ll try to make more of an effort.
I’ll follow up this post with another one catching up with some things that have been happening over the last few months..
Some nice reviews have been coming in for Joy’s Reflection is Sorrow – here’s a selection:
Folk Radio UK: ‘There are many factors that make Joy’s Reflection Is Sorrow a wonderful album. The musicianship is great … Kraus’s voice has found a new confidence and the rolled-back arrangements and production allow the songs room to breathe and speak. But perhaps the most important thing, in a world in which instant gratification and long-term despair are increasingly held up as the only options, is the sense of a lasting optimism that goes beyond the span of a human life, that perhaps even defines the nature of human life. Kraus may not be able to answer those big questions – maybe they are unanswerable – but she has found the best possible way to ask them.’
The Wire: ‘Like the tarot image on the album sleeve, Kraus deals love and loss in equal measures, and sees them as part of the same cycle. While the title song savours the joys of each season, it does so with full awareness that the world will outlive the person loving it. But generosity and generative action get the last word here, refuting death and greed.’
Delusions of Adequacy: ‘Kraus’s best and most accessible long-player to date, which seamlessly entwines her most intimate traditionalist songwriting inclinations with more her sonically adventurous tendencies… for an eight-track album so consumed with death and dying, Joy’s Reflection Is Sorrow is paradoxically brimming full of artistic life.’
Terrascope: ‘Joy’s Reflection Is Sorrow flows like journey upon a becalmed river, even if that body of water sometimes resembles the mythical Styx. Drink deep of this and you will be fulfilled.’
MOOF: ‘… both unearthly and, whilst inviting, also unnerving. This is Kraus’ forte, to merge beauty and melody with an edge that keeps things unpredictable and often deliciously otherworldly.’
Soundblab: ‘Joy’s Reflection Is Sorrow continues that marriage of styles, eerie goth-inflected vibes softened by traditional folk’s sweet harmonies, revisiting the dichotomy of dark/light, soft/hard, joy/sorrow and pushing through the sorrows life throws at her to find that joy anxiously, perhaps trembling timidly while it waits on the other side of the mirror.’
Fatea Magazine: ‘There’s something both unsettling and comforting about Sharron’s latest opus, and the qualities coexist in music that’s both stimulating and reassuring. In the end, the prevailing current of this fine album is that of optimism in the face of despair – which can only be a good thing.’
There’s a nice feature in the current issue of Shindig! magazine (issue 82):