Findings 2016

"A quality duo. There's frankly so much to admire, but the main thing is it sounds beautiful"

     - Mark Radcliffe, BBC Radio 2

"Findings is complex yet simple, passionate, powerful and ultimately the real deal"

     - Mike Harding, The Mike Harding Folk Show

R2 (Rock n Reel) Magazine Review


"This is a truly satisfying production"

The distinguishing feature of earlier Ange Hardy records was how one might mistake the songs for traditional ones. Now, including traditional ones for the first time, the challenge when listening is to work out which are originals and which from the tradition. ‘Bonny Lighter Boy’ anyone?

That, as it turned out, was Roud number 843. ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’ exemplifies just how her delightful trademark sound is so fitting for the touching subject matter and the pastoral scenes she evokes, whether totally original song or not. It’s amazing that, as Ange tells it, she is a latecomer to the ‘folk scene’.

With each of the albums that she has released there has been a steady development. Now for Findings, her fifth studio album, she has joined forces with guitarist and double bassist Lukas Drinkwater as co-writer and co-producer. Also she features as guest musicians folk luminaries Kathryn Roberts, Nancy Kerr, Ciaran Algar, Archie Churchill-Moss and Steve Pledger. The sound is fuller than ever before, with Ange herself playing guitar, harp and whistles as well as singing.

This is a truly satisfying production by the industrious pair. Their intensive songwriting experience and the innovative arrangement skills as fulfilled in this recording have set the bar very high for future endeavors.

     - Reviewer:  Colin Bailey

Northern Sky Magazine Review


"...truly beautiful in its execution. This really is a fantastic record."

It's little wonder that we are hearing rather a lot of Ange Hardy these days, one of the most focused, hard-working and prolific artists to have emerged in the last few years; it almost appears like she has been hidden away from us, almost imprisoned, only to suddenly and unexpectedly burst out with the energy and determination of someone discovering freedom for the very first time. This focus continues to grow and develop with the latest album and first collaborative project with Lukas Drinkwater, a busy musician in his own right, stepping into the spotlight for the first time as a songwriter and joint front-person. With a keen eye on presentation, Ange and Lukas wrap their songs in beauty, with a monochrome sleeve and lyrics booklet. The songs are self-composed in the main, some elaborations of existing traditional material and one or two familiar songs such as The Trees They Do Grow High and The Berkshire Tragedy. By the Tides is a moving comment on our current migration situation in the Med, with a sense of family at the core, an eloquent comment on our troubled times. Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater refuse to herald in their songwriting credentials with overblown fanfare, but with restraint and humility. In other words, this is what's happening, please deal with it. Both Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts join Ange on True are the Mothers, three mums in unison, which is truly beautiful in its execution. This really is a fantastic record.

     - Reviewer: Allan Wilkinson, Northern Sky

The Sunday Express Review


"Poised, precise, sublime, intricate...a revelation!"

The poised, precise harmonies that made folk singer Hardy's last album Esteesee such a joy, are enriched and enhanced here by Lukas Drinkwater, whose own voice provides the subtlest of shadings. These elements come together beautifully on The Berkshire Tragedy, Hardy's voice infused with breathless urgency.

The Instrumental work throughout is sublime as are Hardy's typically intricate arrangements, the self-harmonies on Daughter, Dear Daughter a revelation. 

     - Reviewer: Martin Townsend, The Sunday Express

Amazon Reviewers


"Every track a masterpiece"

WOW this was nice surprise - a purchase bought at random because I had Amazon Prime credits and I liked Folk! I’m glad I did it was beautiful. I think I must have been in hibernation as I had never heard of Ange or Lukas but I definately will be listening out for them in future. I loved the songs – the lyrics – the instrument playing and in particular Ange’s voice and the harmonises. The songs are traditional but also warm inspiring and beautifully sung. Although a colabaration its Ange voice that sings out on the tracks. 14 tracks - guitars – harp – guitars – double bass. Slightly biased and major fan of Show of Hands ...anyone that likes them will surely like these tracks Recommend.

Reviewer: What I really think

A culmination of the hard work and dedication of brilliant musicians. Every track a masterpiece

Reviewer: Mrs. A.K.Yorkon

I heard this mentioned on Radio 2 and after hearing some of the songs played on the radio decided to purchase. It is a beautiful album full of melodies and tunes that will captivate and whisk you away.

Reviewer: ColinDon

A "must buy" album for all folk lovers and those new to folk music. This album is absolutely mesmerising! Beautiful vocals from both Ange and Lukas with haunting, well arranged melodies. I cannot stop listening to it.

Reviewer: Mum of 3 girls

This is an absolutely beautiful folk CD. Gorgeous lyrics and harmonies. Devine harp playing. Sparkly guitar chords. Lyrics and background to each song. You will not be disappointed. Also really great to see live.

Reviewer: Gill Watkinson

When Ange Hardy sings her songs go right from her heart to yours, she is a beautiful and honest performer , Her meteoric rise may surprise her but that is because she is just so modest . Her new album Findings in collaboration with Lukas Drinkwater is a triumph. Ange and Lukas make an amazing sound together both are innovative and accomplished musicians. Their harmonies and musical framework is never too much never too little aided by some of folks finest performers too numerous to mention here the album is a thing of beauty. Buy it play it treasure it love it . (and go see them live)

Reviewer: Marie29

This is a breathtaking album by two wonderful artists. Ange's gentle vocal with all it's emotion is complemented ideally by Lukas. Their harmonies marry beautifully and their playing is stunning. The whole is a real labour of love, evident in their performances. Ange's song writing gets better with each album she does and the support of other fine musicians and singers, on the album, is testament to this. Her style is instantly recognisable, without being 'samey' it twangs the heart strings without being sickly, it is narrative without being boring, it has 'hooks' without being inane. She is becoming more and more noticed in the world of folk music, and rightly so. The rest of the music business should sit up and take notice of what hard working, original artists can do on a beautiful album like this, instead of feeding us the diet of overproduced, musical 'junk food' which has no real value in a spiritual sense

Reviewer: Mrs. L. E. Franklinon

I've been lucky enough to see Ange and Lukas play live in Cornwall three times this year. Their music is wonderful live and this magic has translated effortlessly to this brilliant new CD. I would highly recommend it and am already planning to buy extra copies as presents for friends!

Reviewer: Seawaveson

stunning album. amazingly gifted artists

Reviewer: adamon

Another step upwards and onwards for Ange now with Lukas adding a whole new dimension and depth to the music. A wider range of instruments but still beautiful harmonies heightened by a few well picked guests. A stunning album

Reviewer: John Pon

This is a beautiful album. Writing, performing, recording are all superb. I particularly like the lovely harmonies, which have always been a strength of Ange Hardy's music but reach new heights here. Her musical partnership with Lukas Drinkwater works brilliantly by broadening the tonal range and his wonderful musicianship complements Hardy's perfectly. One of the finest albums of 2016.

Reviewer: Mark

Findings is a combination of fine musicianship and subtle vocals mixed with old themes modern thoughts into a blend of sublime simplicity. Listen lighter and it will flow around you listen hard and you gain more. Ange has a habit of taking a theme and creating a magic and Lukas (one of the hardest working bass players on the circuit (see his work with 3 Daft Monkeys and Tobias Ben Jacob for just two other examples)) brings his own twist. Together this project links facets like it's title.

Reviewer: Barrow3

Fantastic Music! Perfect for a long drive, peaceful and amazing performances, you can't question the skill Ange and Luke have when it comes to pleasing a crowd. Everyone should listen at least once, i guarantee it will hook you!

Reviewer: H 1991

An outstanding album. Findings is the new album from Ange Hardy, one of the most talented and prolific performers on the folk circuit. She is joined by the versatile Lukas Drinkwater and there is great synergy between the two, producing what is arguably Ange’s best work to date (though last year’s outstanding Esteesee runs it close). The vocals remain as heartfelt and crystal clear as ever, and Ange’s song writing continues to mature and increase in scope – there are some excellent self-penned tracks on display with particular favourites being By The Tides and Far Away From Land. Traditional songs are not neglected as evidenced by the achingly beautiful rendition of The Trees They Do Grow High. Overall this is the best new folk release I’ve heard this year. It is strongly recommended, and if you get the chance, do go and see Ange and Lukas on tour, they’re a terrific live act.

Reviewer: Glen.S

It's a cracking good album. So I'm a little biased here having been an AH fan since her husband Rob told me via Twitter to check out Ange Hardy. That was a few years back and I have been hooked ever since.
This album is sublime. It's like musical treacle to the ears. Each song tells a story and tells it well. I think we can all equate with the emotion of By the Tides and perhaps my favourite, The Parting Lullaby.
Lukas Drinkwater is an awesome presence here. I've been a fan for a while and have enjoyed his recent work with Sam Kelly. Here he works well alongside Ange and really helps to bring the songs to life. Oh and I can't miss out Nancy Kerr. I didn't even know she was part of the project so it was a very pleasant surprise to hear her dulcet tones on True are the Mothers. Thanks Ange and Lukas

Reviewer: FolkieDokie

Ange just gets better and better. Wow wow Ange Hardy has really brought perfection to her writing and with Lukas DW a partnership that was destined to be. This album has beautiful music from numerous musical instruments coupled with lyrics that you just have to listen to. All in all a fabulous album not only for folk fans but a fantastic listen for everyone

Reviewer: T B.

The first output from a collaboration of two great musicians has produced an album which is sure to feature on many "Best Of" lists this year. Ange and Lukas have created a synergy which has impressed everybody who's heard them and promises great things for the future.
The traditional songs are treated with a real sense of innovation, whilst the new ones have a sensitivity and sense of place which mark them as potential classics for the future.
It should be on the wish list of anybody who has an interest in modern folk music.

Reviewer: tony birch


“A complete jewel of a record...Findings is a thoughtful, visionary and highly satisfying artifact."

Barely a year after her imaginative Coleridge themed album Esteesee, Ange has embarked on a fruitful collaborative duo venture with Lukas Drinkwater, an in-demand, yet arguably under sung musician. For although hitherto maintaining something of an ‘if you know where to look’ profile, Lukas has graced many live bills and recordings (he’s appeared on two of Ange’s previous albums as well as releases by Lucy Ward, Sam Kelly and 3 Daft Monkeys).

Findings, defined as “the parts used to join jewellery components together to form a completed article”, here takes on a triple meaning: firstly comprising story-songs about parting and joining (people and places); secondly embracing songs (or parts thereof) that represent ‘findings’ amongst traditional material; and thirdly celebrating Ange and Lukas ‘finding’ an ideal, and intensely creative, artistic partnership. All three strands of meaning come together through the binding talents of the two musicians, the end product a complete jewel of a record.

Several of the disc’s songs resulted from an EFDSS Creative Artists Bursary awarded to Ange, Lukas and fellow-songwriter Steve Pledger in February 2016 (Steve co-wrote the shanty-esque Far Away From Land). Their original writing brings a valuable context and perspective to the traditional findings on this intelligently-themed and lovingly planned disc, while the unaffected inner virtuosity of the duo’s musicianship is complemented by vocal arrangements that, while often complex, are always naturally conceived.

Standouts include The Berkshire Tragedy (a variant of The Two Sisters), with its brilliant- ly simple twin-guitar arrangement that gives the ballad something of a Gillian Welch feel; the lilting By The Tides; and a revelatory reading of Trees They Do Grow High. The pairing of the deeply personal Daughter, Dear Daughter with the intensely beautiful The Parting Lullaby (incorporating The Parting Glass) leads to the disc’s epilogue Fall Away, a symmetrical bookend that draws to a close its opening story of Daughters Of Watchet.

Although Ange and Lukas’ extraordinary duo empathy is a central aspect of the project, selective guest appearances prove almost as integral; highlights include Ciaran Algar’s keening fiddle weaving through the tale of The Widow, Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts combining their voices on True Are The Mothers, and subtle diatonic accordion work from Archie Churchill-Moss on a handful of tracks.

The exquisite details of Findings’ musical content are mirrored in the impeccably man- aged packaging and informative presentation. All told, Findings is a thoughtful, visionary and highly satisfying artifact.

     - Reviewer: David Kidman

Folk Radio UK / FRUK Review

"As the title suggests, the component parts form together to create a superbly wrought and finely crafted  album, beautifully played by all involved, that is certain to loom large in the end of year folk awards."

Following swiftly on the heels of last year’s highly acclaimed Estesee, Ange Hardy’s now paired up with fellow folkie Lukas Drinkwater (marking his first time in the spotlight as writer and arranger) for Findings, an album of traditional and self-penned material that features Hardy on guitar, harp and whistles, Drinkwater on guitar and double bass with contributions from Archie Churchill-Moss on diatonic accordion, Ciaran Algar on fiddle and Evan Carson on percussion and backing vocals alongside Steve Pledger, as well as guest vocal appearances by Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts.

The pair got together last December and, in February of this year they, along with Pledger, were awarded an EFDSS Creative Arts Bursary, spending a week at Cecil Sharp House where several of the songs took shape. 

Hardy describes Findings as an album about “daughters and their homelands, wives and their husbands, sisters and their brothers, children and their parents, fathers and their grandfathers, mothers and their family, parting and joining.” So, plenty of grist for the mill there, then.

It kicks off with a self-penned threeparter, The Call, Daughters of Watchet and Caturn’s Night. The first part, written at Nancy Kerr’s  EFDSS songwriting workshop, sung a capella, sets the scene for the steady rhythm of the second section telling the stories of the four titular women from the West Somerset former iron ore mining town awaiting their men’s return from work. It culminates in the sprightly instrumental celebrating Caturn’s Night, an ongoing annual tradition still which marks the gift  of hot cake and cider to the locals by Charles II’s wife,  Queen Catherine (pronounced by the locals as ‘Caturn’).

Drawing  on songs found in the Roud folk song index (as do all the trad numbers), the second track, The Pleading Sister,  features just a multi-tracked unaccompanied Hardy spinning the story of the ill-fated sister of Little Boy Blue (the nursery rhyme incorporated within) who falls fatally foul of his doziness. The first fully-fledged traditional number, another tragic tale, The Trees They Do Grow High, is a spare arrangement (their first together, Drinkwater introducing the mid-song time signature change). Things get more full-bodied as accordion and fiddle join them for the pulsing shanty Far Away From Land with its double chorus singing.  Inspired by the ballad ‘The Sea,’ it is based on a newspaper account of Manfred  Fritz Bajorat who chose to live his life at sea and whose mummified body was found, slumped over his radio,  off the coast of Barobo in 2016.

The theme of loss of life at sea spills over into  the beautifully and softly crooned By The Tides, a further contribution to the crowing catalogue of  contemporary folk songs addressing the refugee crisis and, accompanied by just rippling fingerpicked guitars and double bass, unquestionably the album’s standout number.

The fall out of earlier historical conflict underpins My Grandfathers; Hardy’s a cappela riposte to a musician she said seemed to hold her forefathers accountable for the conflicts between their two countries. The lyrics plead that her farmer ancestors “had not a  single intention to take or to steal or divide ,” the number rounded off with Bearded Ted of Raddington, a whistle, wheezing accordion and hand percussion-led Drinkwater jig in honour of his grandfather farmer.

Hardy takes up the harp for  the courtly Renaissance-like True Are The Mothers, written for and featuring vocals by Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts, two of her biggest influences, the mothers here not being actual women, but firmly rooted trees that serves as metaphor for both motherhood and the folk tradition. This is followed by an interpretation of the traditional The Berkshire Tragedy, itself a variation on the sororicide  ballad The Two Sisters, though the arrangement here for guitars and double bass has a deceptively light air.

Originally starting life as a song in memory of her brother, when that proved too painful, The Widow, another madrigal-styled tune plucked on harp,  morphed into one about a woman mourning her husband, while retaining the notion of how memories form and eventually fade (and quite possibly draws on the similarly themed poems of Thomas Hardy).

Basing the arrangements solely on the lyrics, Roud again provides the source for Bonny Lighter Boy, whistle and Agar’s fiddle prominent  on a familiar tale of a lovers parted by a stern father, here having the lad pressed into the navy.

Stemming from the EFDSS residency, Invisible Child is the album’s other politically resonant song, stripped to just the duo backed by  guitar and whistle for a poignant pastoral lullaby that addresses the shocking fact there are over 10,000 young carers aged between 5-7  in England and Wales, many of whom receive no support.

Staying with children, the gently cascading Daughter Dear Daughter, an open letter of wisdom and encouragement to Hardy’s own child, Amy, was originally intended to appear on her debut, Bare Foot Folk, but remained unrecorded until now.

Drawing to a close, the penultimate track returns to Roud for The Parting Lullaby, another mother-daughter song, the twin voices interlacing on the chorus, that interweaves a verse from the traditional The Parting Glasswithin its arms. Finally, the album returns to whence it began, in Watchet, for Fall Away, bidding goodbye to the four women as the day draws to a close, serving an unstated reminder of how, as in Watchet’s transformation from its mining and port heyday, time moves on and things change.

As the title suggests, the component parts form together to create a superbly wrought and finely crafted  album, beautifully played by all involved, that is certain to loom large in the end of year folk awards.

     - Reviewer: Mike Davies, FRUK

Acoustic Magazine Review

"There’s much beauty to be found here.... spell binding, this is folk music, and it probably doesn’t come much better."

Lukas Drinkwater Seems to be everywhere, and though he and Hardy only formed as a duo in 2015, they’ve been barnstorming around the folk world in fine style. Featuring guests like Kathryn Roberts and Nancy Kerr, the pairs first album is a mix of 11 self penned songs  - often routed in Hardy’s Somerset home – and three traditional epics. There’s much beauty to be found here. The arrangements, featuring Ange’s harp playing and the pairs harmonies, are spell binding, and the subject material thought provoking.  Tradgety is never far in the lyrics, but this is folk music, and it probably doesn’t come much better.

     - Reviewer: JP, Acoustic Magazine

The Living Tradition Review

"A beautiful weave of the old and the new... Findings is soothing and intriguing, warm, and thoroughly enjoyable, sound testimony to the highly professional qualities and skills of its creators"

From turbulence and trauma, Ange Hardy has found transcendence in music. Findings - the title refers to the term used for parts which join jewellery components – is her fifth studio album, her first as a duo with the highly experienced multi-instrumentalist and session musician, Lukas Drinkwater. Firmly rooted in the folk idiom, in Findings, accessible and attractive melodies combine with strong narrative lyrics, to produce 14 entrancing and well-crafted songs, plus two tunes.

Together Ange and Lukas have created a beautiful weave of the old and the new, the intimate and the social, capturing the mystery and lore of Somerset in a homely dream-like atmosphere. Harmonies are prevalent, whether between the pair, or, on True Are The Mothers, with Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts.

There are fine variations in style and pace across the songs, at times relaxed, rhythmic or rousing. Ange’s harp and whistles feature throughout, and Lukas’s guitar is especially notable in The Berkshire Tragedy. The range of subject matter is broad, covering the immigration crisis, young carers, lullabies, family and local history. Arrangements of three traditional songs are included, with the innovation of interlacing extracts of others e.g. Little Boy Blue, The Parting Glass into new compositions. Steve Pledger co-wrote Far Away From Land. A comprehensive booklet contains the lyrics and players for each track, with informative song notes.

With subtle strength, and quiet assurance, Findings is soothing and intriguing, warm, and thoroughly enjoyable, sound testimony to the highly professional qualities and skills of its creators.

     - Reviewer: Jim McCourt, The Living Tradition

Redrospective Review

"Findings proves that folk can be vibrant and vital by both respecting roots and reflecting contemporary concerns"

It’s not often you see a suggestion to “turn it up” in the liner notes for a folk album, but in this case it’s a very good idea indeed. Findings is an album as much at home in the modern amplified world as on the shores and seas of the past.

Turning up the volume showcases The Call to best effect. Hardy’s imploring a capella vocal line is supported by Drinkwater’s rumbling, almost monastic chanting. The tune segues to Daughters of Watchet about women in an interdependent community organised around the railway, mine, farm and sea. There’s danger in the menfolk’s work and tension for the women willing them home; the fates of their families depend on machinery, the elements and chance.

Again and again, Hardy and Drinkwater profile the women left behind. The Pleading Sister is a hauntingly beautiful retelling of the story of Little Boy Blue, imagining the consequences of the boy’s recklessness. It would fit well into the folk canon because it’s suitably grisly – the dutiful sister gets trampled and impaled.

There are many other songs from and inspired by folk traditions; variations of variations. The Trees They Do Grow High is perhaps the most familiar, here rearranged for a duo with  few years added to the tragic boy’s age compared to some starker child marriage versions.

Bonny Lighter-Boy was developed following an online discovery of orphaned lyrics which Hardy and Drinkwater set to music “the way the song sounded to us.” Meanwhile, Daughter Dear Daughter could easily be a companion piece to Malvina Reynolds’ 20th century folk classic Turn Around. While the daughter may eventually leave to make her own way in the world, the mother definitely will leave, permanently, through death. It’s about passing on lessons and traditions while there’s time.

Hardy and Drinkwater pay their dues honouring and echoing tradition, but it’s the songs rooted squarely in the present that set this album apart. Hardy is a relative newcomer to the folk world, and Drinkwater has performed with basically everyone, so they have a wide range of musical influences and experience to draw from.

Far Away From Land sounds like a timeless sea shanty and is blended with a traditional, The Sea (Roud v4673). Nevertheless, it’s inspired by a contemporary event and developed during an English Folk Dance and Song Society residency with a focus on stories from the headlines. Hardy and Drinkwater depict Manfred Bajorat’s death at sea alone at the helm, during a self-imposed exile from modern life, much more appropriately than the tabloids’ lurid photos did. Deep harmonies come in waves with a refrain that lingers.

By The Tides is another modern day sea story, recalling that all too brief moment when tides of humans washing ashore was perceived as the tragedy that it is. Inspired by the much-publicised death of Alan Kurdi along with his brother, mother and many other Syrian refugees, this song is arresting in its simplicity. It is nuanced in its child-like, prescient, but ultimately forlorn, calls to remember and save rather than fear and hate. Hardy’s vocals really shine, buoyed by Drinkwater’s whispered refrains.

By The Tides is surely one of the songs of the year and would be the runaway highlight of most albums. However, Findings has a challenger; another outstanding tender song from a child’s perspective. The titular Invisible Child represents the estimated 100,000 5 to 7 year olds with caring responsibilities in the UK. The protagonist tends to a vacant father a baby sister. It’s a superbly crafted song. Tiny details and a soothing tone depict a difficult existence, striving for normality for the sister though accepting the reality – they know no other life. The denouement is heartbreaking; the reward for a hard day’s work is simply the chance to be a child for a few snatched moments.

The album ends with Fall Away, a companion piece to Daughters of Watchet. The women of Watchet need watch no more for the vital industries are long gone and the world has changed, not necessarily for the better.

Findings proves that folk can be vibrant and vital by both respecting roots and reflecting contemporary concerns. The album focuses especially on the surrounding stories of women and children with hidden troubles – the watchers, waiters, workers, and worriers that prove support and bear the consequences and sorrow, often in silence. Hardy and Drinkwater have both modernised traditional songs and taken contemporary stories and made them universal and timeless.

     - Reviewer: Redrospective


"Hardy is an incredible musician and songwriter and her voice deserves her place among the other wonderful song maidens the folk scene has produced... Drinkwater adds a whole new dynamic, not only with his undeniable skill as a musician but also bringing harmonies which marry with Hardy's voice seamlessly."

You should be able to get Ange Hardy on the NHS because there is something strangely therapeutic in listening to her singing on this album. Again teamed up with Lukas Drinkwater another element of class music has been added and they could be the cure for all modern ills.

Considering she came to the scene quite late for a touring musician and doesn't carry the background and experience of many folk veterans, which is not always a bad thing, she has waterbombed the world of folk music making an impact that has spread far and wide.

After the success of Esteesee, which was essentially a concept album based around Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Hardy is back with a collection of new and traditional works without any constraints.
She is with prolific musician Drinkwater who crops up almost everywhere but this time has had perhaps more involvement than any other project he has worked on to date. Hardy has one of the best voices on the folk circuit and that is saying something when you consider the quality of female voices which are around at the moment. Her clarity, versatility, lightness and strength all come through on this album. It also contains her mastery of electronic gadgetry which adds layers to the tunes and if you have ever seen her live her feet work as hard as her hands when producing her backing sounds.
As she has proved several times already, Hardy can come up with the goods when it comes to songwriting and albums. However, with Findings comes Drinkwater who adds a whole new dynamic to proceedings, not only with his undeniable skill as a musician but also bringing harmonies which marry with Hardy's voice seamlessly.
This is obvious from the first track which is a triplet The Call/Daughters of Watchet and Caturn's Night. As the title suggests Hardy opens the song with a call. The tune is almost a potted history of Watchet in Somerset and is such a lovely woven blend of Hardy and Drinkwater's voice it's mesmerising and there is a lovely musical surprise at the end of the line.
Another luscious blend of vocal harmonies comes with The Pleading Sister, built around the nursery rhyme Little Boy Blue. In true folk tradition it ends in tragedy because of the central character's idleness. Sung as a round the subtle blending of the harmonies are a real treat to listen to.
Without doubt one of the highlights of the album is The Trees They Do Grow. A joint effort from the two, Hardy's voice is sublime and once again complemented perfectly by Drinkwater. The much stronger beat of Far Away From Land is the grim and true tale of Manfred Fritz and the rhythm and cadence in their singing mirrors the undulating movement of the sea which claimed his life.
Hardy's voice is at its emotive best with By The Tides, it is a truly a beautiful ballad but was inspired by terrible tragedy as the scenes of drowned migrants, who were trying to escape war, became fodder for the media.

Hardy and Drinkwater simple use their voices in the first part of My Grandfathers/Bearded Ted of Raddington. You have to face it, when you have a voice such as Hardy's and a harmonising sound which melds so well from Drinkwater then often music is gilding the lily. The second part is an instrumental tribute to Hardy's own grandfather, whose beard provokes fond memories.
For True Are the Mothers Hardy gathers around her two of her inspirational peers, Kathryn Roberts and Nancy Kerr, both of whom in their own way, have voices as distinctive as Hardy's. The song lauding the role of trees in both folk music and folklore borders on the ethereal with Hardy's female counterparts adding to the mystical feel with their harmonies.  Archie Churchill-Moss, of Moore, Moss and Rutter, and Ciaran Algar are worthy of mention in helping to create the atmosphere of the floating tune. The Berkshire Tragedy is Hardy and Drinkwater's interpretation of a well-travelled murder ballad. Many will recognise it from the Three Sisters. The guitar picking is precise and excellent and the skipping pace they create gives the song a sort of urgency as though they are trying to tell the tale covertly before time runs out and they are discovered.
Hardy's vocals really stand out on The Widow, her gorgeous tones are just a pleasure to listen to and as mesmerising as a siren, Algar's fiddle playing and Evan Carson's understated percussion adds real colour to this atmospheric song.
Bonny Lighter-Boy is a song the pair dug up online and so had carte blanche, with the end result being a clever use of music and vocals to create atmospheres of varying intensity. The duo move towards another social comment with Invisible Child, a song about carers who are children. The children being anywhere between five and eight years old take on the role of adults to care for a family member.
The tune is very light, almost like it was written for a nursery rhyme yet the lyrics are spot on painting a picture of how this youngsters carry out their duties as carers unnoticed and invisible. Hardy is another mother who, like her heroine Roberts, has written a song inspired by trying to see the future for her beloved girl. In this song she is trying to do what every right thinking parent hopes to do and that's steer your family from the mistakes you made. The gentle ballad is a really touching song and if her daughter doesn't fully understand the significance of her mother expressing her fears in song at this time, it's hoped one day she will surely listen to this track and feel her heart swell. Hardy's The Parting Lullaby is a deconstructed version of The Parting Glass and is almost the sister tune to the previous offering.

Watchet with a tune which is as quiet as the town itself today after its industries have died out. The singing is understated and the voices weave  in and out of each other in a gentle dance of sound that is almost like a musical massage. Hardy is an incredible musician and songwriter and her voice deserves her place among the other wonderful song maidens the folk scene has produced.
With the added input of Drinkwater and a host of other incredibly talented musicians, what she has created is a collection of songs which tap into your emotions and play with them for as long as the track lasts.
There is almost a spiritual element to Hardy's singing and songwriting and you can only surmise that depth of connection comes from her experiences and deep understanding of human emotions. If you've had a bad day, feel stressed, wound up or simply had enough then take Findings four times a day until symptoms disappear.

     - Reviewer: Danny Farragher, FOLKALL

FATEA Magazine Review

"Striking vitality... an album with a timeless quality"

Ange Hardy And Lukas Drinkwater are probably the best example of a quality duo since Mr Rolls first said hello to Mr Royce and "Findings" very much their Silver Ghost. Now I've not chosen the reference at random, the thing about those early Rolls Royce was the triumph in blending engineering and aesthetic, the merging of function and form. In Hardy & Drinkwater you have two multi-instrumentalists that know how to bring a striking vitality out of music's building blocks. I could also mention that "Findings" are what jewellers use to join the creative parts of their pieces together, the hidden engineering that allows the gems to sparkle and leave you to draw the connections.

It's no secret that I've been a huge fan of Ange Hardy since I first discovered her music via her second album "Barefoot Folk", back in 2013, an album that saw her picking up female vocalist of the year. It turns out that I've been a fan of Lukas Drinkwater for a lot longer than I realised as he's contributed to so many live and recorded performances over the years, many of which have found their way into my collection, but rarely with his name appearing above the line, well that's definitely changed now and perhaps it will bring a wider recognition of his talents.

The first thing you notice about "Findings" is that it is whilst it references both of Ange's preceding albums, it is a step change, most noticeably in how the voices are used on the album, both in harmony and when they are apart. It allows the album to find its character incredibly quickly and in doing so allows the instrumentation to shape the body. Crucially it also allows the newly written songs to sit in with the traditional leaving an album with a timeless quality, it also brings a perspective to some of those traditional songs that often gets lost in the retelling.

A good example of this is "The Berkshire Tragedy", a song that has been recorded in many forms and whilst described in the title as a tragedy, is in reality a song about, attempted murder, robbery and murder, something that is brought home all the more by hearing after both "By The Tides" a contemporary song about the refugee crisis and "True Are The Mothers", a song about the different aspects of motherhood and which features guest appearances from Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Roberts, but crucially it also works the other way giving "By The Tides" a context that may ensure its longevity.

Having mentioned some of the guests musicians, it would seem wrong not to mention the others, particularly as there's a fine crop of young musicians, Archie Churchill-Moss, Ciaran Algar and Evan Carson, as well as the not so young, but equally talented Steve Pledger who also co-writes "Far Away From Land". Behind the desk duties come courtesy of Olly Winters-Owen.

The reason I mention all the musicians, is that underlying quality that sits throughout "Findings". Some of the songs are just Ange & Lukas, but other songs draw on those different components, always the right part for the job, leaving you admiring how it sounds together as a whole, verse to tune, to song to album.

Whilst not a concept album as such, there are underlying themes running through "Findings" or rather gilded threads that wrap around each other to build something stronger, not least amongst these being family and bonds, with a context that draws on the character and power of the west country, an area known for its natural beauty, but underpinned by the hard graft of miners, farmers and artisans.

Ultimately, "Findings" is an album that connects, one that connects to head, heart and spirit, but more than that it's an adventure, one that re-explores songs from the past, brings them together with songs from the now and builds them towards a bright future.

     - Reviewer: Neil King, FATEA Magazine

The Living Tradition Review

"a beautiful weave of the old and the new, the intimate and the social... sound testimony to the highly professional qualities and skills of its creators"

From turbulence and trauma, Ange Hardy has found transcendence in music. Findings - the title refers to the term used for parts which join jewellery components – is her fifth studio album, her first as a duo with the highly experienced multi-instrumentalist and session musician, Lukas Drinkwater. Firmly rooted in the folk idiom, in Findings, accessible and attractive melodies combine with strong narrative lyrics, to produce 14 entrancing and well-crafted songs, plus two tunes.

Together Ange and Lukas have created a beautiful weave of the old and the new, the intimate and the social, capturing the mystery and lore of Somerset in a homely dream-like atmosphere. Harmonies are prevalent, whether between the pair, or, on True Are The Mothers, with Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts.

There are fine variations in style and pace across the songs, at times relaxed, rhythmic or rousing. Ange’s harp and whistles feature throughout, and Lukas’s guitar is especially notable in The Berkshire Tragedy. The range of subject matter is broad, covering the immigration crisis, young carers, lullabies, family and local history. Arrangements of three traditional songs are included, with the innovation of interlacing extracts of others e.g. Little Boy Blue, The Parting Glass into new compositions. Steve Pledger co-wrote Far Away From Land.  A comprehensive booklet contains the lyrics and players for each track, with informative song notes. 

With subtle strength, and quiet assurance, Findings is soothing and intriguing, warm, and thoroughly enjoyable, sound testimony to the highly professional qualities and skills of its creators.

     - Reviewer: Jim McCourt, The Living Tradition 

LCM Review / Laurel Canyon Music

"a watershed album, a seamless fusion of old traditional folk and new original music"

It's always exciting to witness the birth of a very special musical partnership. The coming together of two very talented and successful singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists to create something more than the sum of their own individual gifts. 'Findings' the new duo album from Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater is a watershed album, a seamless fusion of old traditional folk and new original music. Findings carries the idea of 'parts used to join jewellery components together to form a complete article'. This fits perfectly both with Ange and Lukas' musical partnership as well as with the fusion and creation of their music  It is a personal album about relationships and family, the parting and joining in life's endless cycle. This album is very special to LCM, as we hosted the first official duo concert from Ange & Lukas in St. Pancras Old Church, London in November 2015.

The songs on the album are written, arranged and produced by Ange and Lukas with a host of super guest artists who complement greatly to overall feel and flavour of the album. These including the multi-award winning Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Roberts and Ciaran Algar along with Archie Churchill-Moss (Moore Moss Rutter), Evan Carson (The Willows, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys) and the very good Steve Pledger who co-wrote 'Far Away From Land". The album was recorded by Olly Winters-Owen at Beehive Studio and executively produced by Ange's husband Rob.

This a high quality album starting from it's packaging and release campaign through to the superb quality of musicianship, songwriting and arrangements. Don't be surprised if this album and Ange & Lukas feature strongly in 2017's BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. The album is very true to it's name and doesn't have any weak links.

The album begins with three linked songs about Wachet, 'The Call/Daughters Of Wachet/Caturn's night'. Wachet is close to Ange's home and also features in Ange's last album 'Esteesee' about the life and times of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This combination of songs has some very high quality sumptuous harmonies and arrangements. 'The Call' first took shape at an EFDSS songwriting workshop led by Nancy Kerr. While the 'Daughters of Wachet' are the stories of Mary, Annie, Molly, Sally and their husbands. 'Caturn's Night' is a tribute to a local Wachet yearly celebration of Queen Catherine (pronounced by the locals as 'Caturn), the Portuguese wife of King Charles II who delivered a boatload of spiced cider and hot cakes as a gift to the people of Wachet.  

'The Pleading Sister' is based on 'Little Boy Blue' (Roud 19703). There is only one verse of the original song. So Ange wrote the surrounding story of his pleading sister, who suffers the consequence of the boys idleness when she is trampled by startled cows and impaled on a blunt pitchfork. Another classic happy folk song ending.

One of our favourites on the album is the sublime 'The Trees They Do Grow High' (Roud 31). It's almost spine-tingling at time with the combination of harp, whistle, guitar and double bass coupled with floating and super tight harmonies. The chorus really resonates 'Growing, growing, my bonny bonny boy he is growing'. It's the first traditional song that Ange and Lukas arranged together and it was inspired by Lucy Ward and Bella Hardy's version on 'Liberty To Choose'.

'Far Away From Land' originates from a new story they read as part of their EFDSS residency. It is the true story of Manfred Fritz Bajorat  who chose to leave behind the harsh winters of Germany and spend his life at sea. Twenty years later he was found drifting off the coast of Barobo, having died on board and been perfect mummified by the salt air, temperatures and strong winds. The story is nicely paired with The Sea (Roud V4673). Some lovely rounds here which make the song almost haunting, with vocals from Ange, Lukas and Steve Pledger who co-wrote the song.

One of our firm favourites on the album is another song which was created at the same EFDSS residency at Cecil Sharp House. 'By The Tides' is a powerful and thought-provoking response to the current humanitarian crisis and the tragic loss of life in the Mediterranean. Many families escaping from war torn areas hoping to find a more peaceful and better lives have been drowned at sea. Vulnerable children have been separated or even orphaned from the parents. Drowned children have even washed up on beaches, causing public outcry.  All of us hope that this tide changes and this terrible chapter of our history can come to an end. This moving song has gentle picked duo acoustic guitar with the lingering refrain 'By the tides all as the seasons change'.

'My Grandfathers/Bearded Ted of Raddington' are two songs about Ange's ancestors in rural Somerset. The first song deals with people who have animosity and still hold forefathers responsible for historical conflicts between countries. The second is in honour of Ange's grandfather Ted, a farmer from Raddington and his marvellous bushy and prickly beard.We next come to what I think is a potential award-winning and very exciting original song, 

'True Are The Mothers' features both Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts guesting on vocals, who I know have been great inspirations to Ange and her music. It's a song about firmly rooted trees and the role they play in life and folklore. It's also a song about folk tradition, motherhood and having strong roots.  Ange, Nancy and Kathryn are all wonderful examples of working and successful mothers in the UK Folk World. Sublime vocals underpinned by some excellent harp still gives me goose-bumps each time I hear it. It really has the 'wow' factor and it's one I would love to see performed live with Nancy and Kathryn at the RAH.

The traditional 'The Berkshire Tragedy' (Roud 8) one of the many variations of 'The Two Sisters' is next to receive a re-working and new interpretation from Ange and Lukas. It is a tale of a West Country miller, the murder of a fair maid and her evil sister. A very catchy tune masking two dark acts of violence. 

The very personal and heartfelt 'The Widow' started as a song about Ange's brother. It reflects on the way memories form and then slowly fade away in time. Some stunning instrumental arrangements with wonderful interplay between Ange's harp, Ciaran's fiddle and Lukas' guitar and double bass. Light percussion from Evan and accordion from Achie provide the backdrop. It almost has a theatrical quality and you can imagine it set in a dark and misty Paris night in the time of 'The Phantom of The Opera'. 'Four years they have passed and I'm tired of breathing, for time it does fade and my memories leaving. I too am now sleeping and angels hold me in their keeping'. 

'Bonny Lighter-Boy' (Roud 843) is another re-arranged tradition folk song with newly composed music around the existing words which Ange and Lukas found online. A lighter is a type of flat bottomed barge used to transfer goods and passengers to and from moored ships. A love story about a merchant's daughter and a young sailor lad. Like most folk songs this don't end well. Very catchy melody and hook to this one.

Another song written as part of the EFDSS residency is 'Invisible Child' focusing in the issue of more than 10,000 forgotten young child careers in England and Wales, often no more than five who care for their parents. Careers under eight are often unsupported because no one expects them to be taking on such adult responsibilities. 

This very personal song original written for Ange's daughter Amy provides some very sage advice. I alway love the looped harmonies on the live version. 'Daughter Dear Daughter' has a lot in common with Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman's 'A Song To Live By'.  Passing on life's wisdom so their children can develop the skills and wisdom to be independent and make wise choices. To be a positive influence and survive in the world in which we live.

An exquisite fusion of old and new is the fantastic 'The Parting Lullaby' (The Parting Glass - Roud 3004). An original song weaved together with the very famous 'Parting Glass', sung from a mother to a child and framed within a lullaby. Classic.

Perfectly ending the album is 'Fall Away (Epilogue)' which draws to a conclusion the tale of the Daughters Of Wachet. All the industries that were the beating heart of Wachet are now sadly gone. The closure of the Wansbrough Paper Mill in 2015 (opened in 1846) brought an end to the era of seafaring and steam power.. The steam railway which was so vital for the town is now a tourist attraction. It makes you wonder if they were alive today, would they recognise their own town?  

'Findings' is a remarkable collection of UK folk music, a perfect blend of old and new from a very talented duo. I have the feeling that however wonderful this album is, Ange and Lukas' greatest accomplishments still lay in the future. As they continue their upward trajectory to some of the leading lights of the new UK Folk Revival. 

     - Reviewer: Laurel Canyon Music

Folking Review

"a masterful example of Ange and Lukas’ songwriting – simple and direct but powerful and moving"

I can’t decide if I’m more impressed by the quantity or the quality of Ange Hardy’s work. The ink is barely dry on Esteesee, her 2015 exploration of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and she’s back with her fourth album formalising her work in partnership with Lukas Drinkwater. Findings is a term for the linking pieces in jewellery that join the settings and stones together – Ange knows about this stuff – and provides the theme of this album. And I do find it refreshing to find a themed album that sticks to its central idea all the way through without forcing it down your throat. For that alone Findings is a wonderful record.

In the opening track, ‘The Call/Daughters Of Watchet/Caturn’s Night’, the link is the railway that linked Watchet to the mines of the Brendon Hills but it is also four love stories. The final track, ‘Fall Away’ returns to Watchet and the four daughters of the town now that the mines and the railway and the fishing are gone. Findings mixes original and traditional material, often in one song. So ‘The Pleading Sister’ builds a song around the single verse of ‘Little Boy Blue’ and ‘Bonny Lighter-Boy’ sets a new tune to a traditional set of words.

The (more or less) traditional pieces are ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’, ‘The Berkshire Tragedy’ and ‘The Parting Lullaby’ and I can tell that you’re working out the findings each of these songs. The original songs cover a multitude of relationships but I will single out ‘Invisible Child’ as a masterful example of Ange and Lukas’ songwriting – simple and direct but powerful and moving.

Sometimes Ange and Lukas perform alone but there is a small band of Archie Churchill-Moss, Ciaran Algar and Evan Carson with additional vocals from Nancy Kerr, Kathryn Roberts and Steve Pledger. Even so, the accompaniments are restrained and the songs are out front where they should be. Not to belittle its predecessors but Findings could be Ange’s best album.

     - Reviewer: Dai Jeffries, Folking

Bright Young Folk Review

"Rustic and organic - a unique and creative whole. The age of discovery is alive and kicking"

After the painstakingly shaped Esteesee, the musical folk concept inspired by life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, comes a different challenge for Ange Hardy: working as a duo. Not that she’s averse to moving from the controlled comfort zone of a solo artist, having toyed in various collaborations and combinations in the past.

The partnership with Lukas Drinkwater not only guarantees what seems to be the usual Hardy hallmark of delicately crafted songs with a fine balance of delicate music and voice, but with Findings extends the sonic depth, adding the extra voice to provide more layers and textures.

Not only that, the duo expand the occasional arrangement for a full backing band which includes significant first lieutenant contributions from Ciaran Algar on fiddle, Archie Churchill-Moss on the diatonic accordion and Evan Carson’s percussion.

Add guest contributions from Steve Pledger (co-write on Far Away From Land) and a couple of folk’s big names, Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts on True Are The Mothers - an ethereal medieval sounding piece written for them and impossible to resist getting them involved to provide a tad of icing on the cake. A sign too of the Hardy & Drinkwater status and pulling power that they’ve been happy to add their weight to the music. It’s not the first appearance of a rustic and organic air about proceedings either; with Bearded Ted Of Raddington and The Berkshire Tragedy it could even form the Robin Hood Trilogy…

Part written at an EFDSS funded songwriting workshop the new material once again draws from the tradition added to original songs and tunes - the album title referring to the joining together of jewellery components, yet in a broader sense it is the blend of the two musicians and their collaborators, their ideas and inspirations which are the real findings. The coming together to form a unique and creative whole.

Familiar themes of the Hardy legacy - family, migration, local industry and trades - surface from the off with the full band. In particular The Widow and Daughter Dear Daughter having their roots closer to home and closer to the heart.

Fired by the use of topical accounts to create folk song, Far Away From Land might have a fiddle ’riff’ close to Seth Lakeman’s Riflemen Of War as it builds on a news story uncovered during the EFDSS residency, yet is a fresh twist on the tale telling structure of traditional song. The touching Invisible Child is in a similar vein while By The Tides, which may be familiar from pre-release, is still a delight at the moment where Drinkwater’s rounder tones briefly come to the fore, backed by Hardy. A rare but exquisite touch.

What soon becomes evident is that Findings is a fine balance between the work as duo and the duo as the front of the expanded line up, and it may be that it’s in the work of the latter that we find the highlights. The term ’greater than the sum of the parts’ is banded about yet it’s the idea of what Hardy has called “weaving elements of traditional songs into our own” which is the strength of Findings.

Take the arrangement of Bonny Lighter Boy as a perfect example; facing just a lyric and re-imagining how it might sound, and then Hardy takes centre stage by foretelling an unknown development of the Little Boy Blue story, inevitably ending in a typically gruesome folk ending. The age of discovery is alive and kicking.

And Findings is exactly that - a journey of discovery and one which seems has some course to run.

     - Reviewer: Mike Ainscoe, Bright Young Folk

The Music Quill Review

"Can’t fault it"

I was very pleased to receive a pre-release CD copy of the new album from prolific singer / song-writer Ange Hardy recently – this time working in full collaboration with the renown Lukas Drinkwater. Of course, I was keen to hear and review it….

The Findings CD came as part of a fine souvenir package. (As did her last album Esteesee – see my review #72). Apart from the disc itself in a deluxe sleeve (on which more anon), it included a lovely personal letter; a set of drinks mats (one representing each of Ange’s previous albums); fact sheets; and even a humbug in matching colours! And once again, all contained within a dedicated jiffy bag.

Both Ange and Lukas are well known to my regular readers; both quite remarkable multi-instrumentalists, song-writers and performers; and they have worked together before. Ange plays guitars, whistle, harp, and lead and backing vocals. Lukas plays guitars, double bass, and vocals. Some other fine musicians were drafted in as necessary too.

‘Findings’ we are told on the sleeve, are ‘The parts used to join jewellery components together to form a completed article’. I did not know that; but I can see its appropriate use to describe this album, as the theme throughout is precious family connections. It is a collection of 14 songs – 11 penned by Ange and Lukas; and three traditional tunes reworked by the duo. As I put the disc into the player, I was expecting Ange’s characteristically well-crafted, interesting songs; with delightful multi-layered vocal melodies sung in beautifully clear enunciation. I wasn’t disappointed, as I got exactly that… if anything, in some ways the album is better than even her last two albums. (See my reviews #32 and #72) So the input of Mr.Drinkwater on this opus has perhaps improved the already high standards of her earlier work – it has certainly modified it. Yet I’m glad to report that it retains a large measure of Ange’s typical styles and sounds which I love.

The album opens with the superbly woven multi-vocal harmony of ‘The Call’ – the first part of  a segued tripartite track inspired by the Somerset town of Watchet. Those remarkable vocal harmonies continue with ‘The Pleading Sister’; and this is followed by the beautifully arranged trad song ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’ (one of my favourites in the collection).

We are given a good variety of folksong as the collection unfolds. With subject matter ranging from the sea to the forests; from birth to death; and from traditional to contemporary; lyrically these songs are quite remarkable and fascinating to read. Other highlights for me were: ‘The Widow’ with its wonderfully woven guitar/harp parts; the excellent lyric and vocal arrangements in the Irish themed ”My Grandfathers / Bearded Ted’; and the poignant ‘Invisible Child’. All in all, a delightful and thought-provoking collection of songs from Ange and Lukas. It is a well recorded album too – sound quality is superb, and a joy to listen to.

The sleeve is a variant of the card gate-fold type with the CD press-fitted on the right, and the booklet fitted left. The book is a 20-page high quality, well-designed effort.  It contains all credits and thanks; as well as lyrics and much interesting information on the songs, including quotes from Ange and Lukas, that enhance the enjoyment and understanding of the opus. I expected as much from Ange. There are interesting rural photos printed too. Finally a unique (as far as I’m aware) game sticker is included on the rear of the sleeve; an explanation of which is too lengthy to include here…you’ll just have to buy the album! You won’t be disappointed in any respect anyway. Can’t fault it.

     - Reviewer: Phil, The Music Quill

FolkWords Review

"Tradition is woven with originality into a tapestry of delectable music that pulls you into its all-absorbing embrace."

It’s an undeniable fact, certain things simply belong together. There may be a ‘traditional’ connection: bacon and eggs, cheese and onion, sausage and mash; they may be confined to those of particular taste: kippers and custard, mussels and cream, jam and peanut butter. Whatever combination floats your boat, it’s a fair bet that through ‘Findings’ Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater are destined to become a classic pairing to enchant the most discerning of tastes.Ange Hardy Findings

With its theme of joining together, ‘Findings’ couples the talents of two outstanding musicians. Tradition is woven with originality into a tapestry of delectable music that pulls you into its all-absorbing embrace. Songs of subtlety and delicacy demand attention, to utter a word will break the spell of gently crafted sensitivity as two complementary voices bring out the essence of the narratives. Listening to the revealations in ‘The Call/ Daughters of Watchet/ Caturn’s Night’, the sorrowful ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’ or the personal intensity of ‘My Grandfaters/ Bearded ted of Raddington’ takes you so close to the artists you can feel their breath. There’s classic narrative with their interpretation of ‘The Berkshire Tragedy’ and piercing truth through ‘Invisible Child’, while the closing songs ‘The Parting Glass’ and ‘Fall Away’ touch the heart.

Those experienced in encountering Ange Hardy’s albums will know there’s usually a wealth of information about the songs, their origins and associated narratives and this is no exception. From explaining the album’s title to detailing the background to each song. In artisan terms ‘findings’ join jewellery components - clasps, pins, wires - they function to make a completed item. Which leads Ange and Lukas describe ‘Findings’ as: “... an album about daughters and their homelands, wives and their husbands, sisters and their brothers, children and their parents, fathers and their grandfathers, parting and joining, mothers and their families”.

Couldn't put it any better myself ... what I can say is buy and listen there will be no disappointment, in fact quite the reverse.

     - Reviewer: Tim Carrol, Folkwords

Folk Phenomena Review

"There is a craft here that leaves a mark in the book of music that will hopefully run across the whole parchment of folk for years to come."

A culmination of learning the disc boasts high-class collaborations, vocals like fireweed and a smooth, rewarding experience that builds on earlier work and honours the traditional.

In the field of engineering and business collaboration it is important to get what you are doing right. As Henry Ford said,

“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

If Ange Hardy and Lukas Drinkwater are anything to go by then in virtue of their shared love of bad jokes (so bad they are good) and self-deprecation on their extensive tour (see here), they are indeed making a success from their relatively new “duo” status and discovering a strength in each other’s talents. Part of the fruits of their twosome toiling is a new album simply called “Findings” with Ange Hardy taking the lead vocals, some harp, whistle and strings, and Lukas with vocals, guitar and double bass. Described as  something that couldn’t have been accomplished by the artists alone, “Findings” has attracted some collaborations from other artists too based in the North such as Barnsley Light Kathryn Roberts along for some vocals, and  Sheffield-dwelling celebrity Nancy Kerr who bring a little extra prestige to the mix. The attention and inclusion of these artists regularly attached to the BBC2 Folk Awards does tell of the quick ascent Ange Hardy has made in the last three years and of a growing musical influence she is having in the community at large. The album has featured highly on Amazon and sales are looking healthy but what is the album like itself?

A nice touch is the pervasiveness of how the theme of these connections is explored. It is “finding” in concept, sound and word but also surprisingly in action as a rather special added bonus of the CD. Each disc comes with a unique name and code imprinted on the album case with a game that you and other purchasers can become involved in. Each name is one half of a group or duo who have performed together; finding the person who has the matching name and code gives both individuals the chance to unlock some bonus material next year (my code is King Billy, please help me out). I have not come across such such a social event in a folk music release before, it is an interesting attempt to innovate and bringing an abstract concept and idea to life in a real way. Ange Hardy et al are becoming fully confident and immersed in the business of making music, it is thankful to know that such a thing is reinforced to an optimistic idea that builds on the central concept and adds interest in the work. It is like a more ethical version of viral marketing used in branding and film media except here they are creating new meanings in the work they do. The album case design itself is quite simple, yet clean with Ange’s historically influenced icon of a tree and roots in shining silver on a matte black background, it is clearly going for the pure approach instead of clutter and confusion.

The album musically expands on this purity of vision as it feels this time like the album is giving something back to history. Ange has done much original work previously and here with “Findings”, much like Confucianism’s honouring of the ancestors, the two writers are performing and writing to satisfy more traditional elements of the folk scene. It is this way that it is most surprising. After listening for a while I was rather amused to see reading the notes that many of the tracks were originally written work and are not from folk history, I could swear there was more traditional material here, but it plumps for influence rather than imitation. It amounts to an album that sounds deeply embedded in folk consciousness but does not come exclusively from history but also modern events which is a testament to the writing and sound that is contained within. It is not the literary-heavy reworking of Ange’s previous Esteesee, but the skills of textual adaptation can be clearly seen running through the album. If it close to any of Ange’s catalogue it is probably in sound nearest to the Lament of the Black Sheep with elements of her other work within but with a slicker sound depth that aims for a wider target audience alongside the rising production.

“True are the mothers” is an epic ode to motherhood that encompasses the aspects of protection “Many are welcome to Shelter all by my cloak”, family “none are forgotten for good is the home”, and provision “all of the little ones call on my care to feed from the fruits of the earth” in the form of trees throughout the song. It has a delicate yet strong arrangement, a spider’s silk of sanctuary spreading outwards. The sacred sense of the song is added to by some magical turns by Nancy Kerr and Kathryn Roberts as added vocals, and it all hangs together with some light harp, whistle, and treading double bass that form a soundscape of bright forest mornings, slender breezes, and venerable medieval folk. Despite previous consternation from myself that this album was unlike her previous, this track is quite stripped back in presentation, and infused with nature’s power much like some of the tracks on her “Bare Foot Folk” album, which is no bad thing at all. Another song on the album that mentions trees, though in a more metaphorical way is the duo’s version of “The Trees They do Grow”, a traditional song in every which way referencing medieval child marriage, and the shortness and brightness of the spark of life in those days. There is a nice contrast between voices here. Ange’s voice is searching, emotive, and expressive whereas Lukas in backing sounds like the voice of inevitability; like if gravel had legs and walked amongst us. It amounts to a searing and honest re-telling of a very famous folk song indeed, it fits right into place here and is a firm favourite.

Another great track, “By the Tides” is an introspective look at the conscience of the nation as it explores the loss of human life in the Mediterranean Sea by people crossing to seek safety. It does not blast out it’s judgement but worries, wonders and asks. Like many tracks on the disc it is an acoustic marvel which dwells in the open away from an overwhelming or stuffed ensemble of instruments and takes the sharp tool of acoustic guitar, some double bass, vocals and does what it will with these. It is a song raising beacon on in exploration of the issue and has the subdtlety of lighting a candle amongst hope rather than a lighter at the fuel of anger around migration, asylum and fear. True with lyrics such as “will you still be waiting when the ignorance has gone?” it could be being forceful with it’s message but in it’s questioning lyrics and rhymes it seems to be pointing towards a welcoming answer rather than prescribing it too heavily. Beautiful in execution with a warming character it deserves more than a few listens. “Invisible Child” also tackles a societal issue, but one not so highly publicised. Written about young carers and the things they do for family member that are often unseen by greater society it considers the mind of the child and the simple day to day routines done without question in the heart of adult responsibility seen experienced in the life . There is little instrumentation like “By the Tides” and here it is tenderly sad, eliciting some heartfelt sorrow as you hear the voice and the joy the child has at doing these simple, essential things. A smile is raised at the end of the song when the whistle comes into play weaving the child’s imagination, fun and energy almost into a dancing jester, a remarkable remembrance of who they are despite the need to “be” an adult. It is a skilled use of candor as it defines and gently engages around a society-wide issue, and is a great track in it’s right.  Even more disrobed of musical instruments, “The Pleading Sister” is a song that expands on the nursery rhyme “Little Boy Blue”. It is seamless how it is done, on listening one could imagine the story of woe from the perspective of the sister of the noise-making sibling who fatally falls victim to cattle being the actual missing verses. In sound it is simply told through Ange Hardy’s style of minor harmony with herself, and the mixing of voice is quite good. Much like an older family member held in wonder for repairing clothes, the song like the stitching repair with skilled hands is faultless, invisible; the writers’ hands move and the only uncertain thing is where the story starts and where it ends and working with old material such as this takes a very deft hand indeed.

Also on the album are some more heavily layered tracks drawing on more instrumentation. This serves to not only balance out the construction of the songs within but also showcase the learning that has taken place following Ange Hardy’s earlier albums and the influences she has developed over the years. She describes “The Widow” as her favourite instrumental arrangement on the album and it is hard to see how it couldn’t be. The role of memories and their changing nature both lightens and weighs burdensome amongst Evan Carson’s sparkling percussion, the dream-like accordion (Archie Churchill-Moss) and tragi-myth stylings of the fiddle (Ciaran Algar). An accomplished, mature work that burns the senses like spicy, mock turtle soup it has a classic refinement you find on the best folk tracks on the best albums being played in the best pubs. Another track, “Far Away from Land” also brings together some more instruments, this time in a very lightly nautical sounding song around a heavily nautical topic (the passing of Manfred Fritz Bajorat who moved away from land and his family to live the rest of his life at sea). The song based on the gentleman shows Ange at her most animated on the album, the song is cyclical and sounds much like the isolation and circling feelings of the sailor. It brings all the elements together in a pacier number that is 5 parts a story of legend, 2 parts a sad tale, and 3 parts of going out the way you say you will. The differing voices all come together well here. There is a tinge of madness in the loop, and the delivery seems to see the last days of the sailor as perhaps being more tormented than he might have imagined or wanted them to be. This is the artists’ imagining anyway for it is another mystery of the world for what those last days must have been like. The male backing vocals work particularly well in this song being stepped with the addition of Steve Pledger in backing being the coffee to Drinkwater’s black molasses.

Clean, professional and rewarding on re-listen, it has taken a while to see the different parts within this “Findings” album.

If her albums were professions this one would as literally described previously, the jeweller attaching a charm on to a loved and old charm bracelet: there are different parts which together jangle and bring memories of different people, times, and places.

Like some of the finest single malts, there are several touches and flavours to be borne from the finish; if I was to pair this album with a whisky it would have to be an Aberfeldy Single Cask balanced in spice and honey for the album is quite distinguished in it’s depth and harmony. The subject material is wider than previous albums, it’s appeal is probably wider too in terms of who will get the most from “Findings” and this can only be a good thing. One cannot fail to be impressed by what is done here and the intentions behind it, it’s concept is not overly laboured in the songs per se but done carefully and thoughtfully in the spirit and sun of the music inside. The execution of the “Findings” Game also show a clever mind at work and a lovely attempt to bring people together in the mood of the work at hand. There is a craft here that leaves a mark in the book of music that will hopefully run across the whole parchment of folk for years to come.

     - Reviewer: Peter Taranaski, Folk Phenomina

Hell of a Heaven Review

"dus laat ik volstaan met te zeggen dat ik dit jaar nog niet zoveel folkplaatjes gehoord heb waar ik helemaal weg van ben, maar dit is er zeker een."

Ange Hardy leerde ik kennen door haar album The Lament of the Black Sheep in 2014 en na die kennismaking vond ik het meteen noodzakelijk om al haar overige werk (ze had toen drie eerdere albums in haar catalogus) aan te schaffen. Wat een heerlijke stem, wat een mooie liedjes. Opvolger Esteesee, een album gebaseerd op de gedichten van Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was misschien nog wel mooier en behoorde tot die steeds zeldzamer wordende cd's die je alleen al vanwege de prachtig verzorgde verpakking zou willen kopen. De zorg die daaruit spreekt is ook kenmerkend voor haar zang en teksten.

Nu ligt alweer haar volgende album in de winkels (en de catalogi van streaming music services, moet je daar tegenwoordig noodzakelijkerwijs aan toevoegen): een samenwerkingsverband met Lukas Drinkwater en ik smelt weer compleet weg bij het horen ervan. Ik ga niet het gras voor de voeten van Arjan, die intekende voor een review, wegmaaien, dus laat ik volstaan met te zeggen dat ik dit jaar nog niet zoveel folkplaatjes gehoord heb waar ik helemaal weg van ben, maar dit is er zeker een.

     - Johnny's Garden, Hell of a Heaven

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