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Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker — Fire & Fortune (2013)

 Ben Walker & Josienne Clarke — Fire & Fortune (2013)

Ben Walker & Josienne Clarke — Fire & Fortune
Ξ   Fire and Fortune is a deftly crafted folk album that just about manages to keep the genres earthier traits in tact. Highlights are the dirgy title track, consisting of little more than drum, guitar and vocals, the Americana of A Pauper and A Poet, the exquisite Green Grow The Laurels and the mournful, beguiling Anyone But Me. Those tracks are a rich seam towards the middle and end of the album. — Paul Chapinal, music-news.com
Ξ  Josienne born in Sussex, England
Ξ  Ben born in Evensham, England
Location: UK
Album release: July 22, 2013
Record Label: Navigator Records/Compass Records
Duration:     38:35
01. After Me  3:36 
02. The Month of January  3:55 
03. The Seasons  3:42 
04. Another Perfect Love  2:37 
05. My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose  3:20 
06. Sycamore Tree  3:04 
07. Fire & Fortune  3:01 
08. Green Grow The Laurels  4:05 
09. Anyone But Me  3:31 
10. A Pauper And A Poet  3:05 
11. No Such Certainty     2:34 
12. When A Knight Won His Spurs  2:05 
Ξ  Josienne Clarke — Songwriting, Vocals, bad guitar, recorder
Ξ  Ben Walker — Better Guitars, Mandolin, Resonator and string arrangments, general techno wizardry.
By Jeremy Searle, Tuesday, 02 July 2013; Score: 9
Ξ  Major folk talents hit their stride
Ξ  Reviewing a genuinely major album is a tricky thing to do. You need to steer a course between the Scylla of excessive hype — remember the millstone that was Jon Landau’s “I have seen the future of rock and roll” Springsteen endorsement, not to mention any number of “new Dylans” — and the Charybdis of under-praising, given that we live in a world where pretty much every album released can find a four or five star review somewhere.
Ξ  So, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker are not the future of folk, but on the strength of this album, and indeed the two that preceded it, plus a string of great live performances, one can confidently say that they’re going to be a major part of it. Not only that, despite the vocal comparisons and some of their earlier cover versions, one can also say that Josienne Clarke isn’t the new Sandy Denny but rather the first Josienne Clarke. The comparison is useful only to show the level of talent that Clarke has, in the same way that Walker could be compared to Carthy or Jansch, even though he sounds nothing like either.
Ξ  As for the rating, this album deserves every one of its points. On the traditional side familiar songs like “My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose” and “Green Grow The Laurels” as well as less commonly heard pieces like “When A Knight Won His Spurs” sound revived, invigorated and vital in the duo’s hands. Clarke’s exquisite melancholy captures every nuance and emotion of the lyrics while Walker’s accompaniment is judged to perfection, complementing and enhancing each and every word. Clarke is also a weapons grade writer, something she gave notice of with “One Light Is Gone”, the title track of a previous release, and here she continues in the same vein with “After Me”, “Another Perfect Love” and more.
Ξ  So there you have it. A major album, from major players, with a high score. Because it’s worth it. (http://www.americana-uk.com/)
Website: www.josienneclarke.co.uk
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/josienneclarke
Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/josienneclarke
Tumblr: http://josienneclarke.tumblr.com/
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/josienneclarke
Bandcamp: http://josienneclarke.bandcamp.com/album/fire-and-fortune-5
Twitter: https://twitter.com/josienneclarke
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Josienne-Clarke/197061213639501
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/music/Josienne+Clarke
About Josienne:
Ξ  Josienne Clarke’s music largely languishes in folk chanson, but occasionally dips a toe into blues shoes. Her musical awakening began at a young age, learning parts to sing along with her father as he played folk and ballad classics on his Spanish guitar. Growing up in a world of singing and playing, Josienne was always a musician, and her natural authenticity and easy communication on stage owes much to these early experiences of performance and interaction. Later, she was drawn to other styles of music and studied classical singing. The influence of this can clearly be heard in the clarity of her voice and the attention to detail in her compositions. From the early choral music she learned in various choirs, to the guitar bands she would listen to with friends, via jazz and experiment, and never losing her love of the traditional music she learnt in her native Sussex, Josienne gathered ideas everywhere she listened. The sum of these many parts are expansive works of skill and beauty, executed with dexterity and charisma. Josienne’s songwriting and performing cohort, Ben Walker, studied classical guitar, then took to playing the electric guitar in a number of bands, before finally ending up in the realms of acoustic music — performing on both steel and nylon string acoustic guitar, and mandolin. Influenced by the likes of Martin Simpson, Bert Jansch, Pierre Bensusan and Richard Thompson, his playing adds an additional dimension to her already sculpted sound.
Ξ  In a town full of songs and singers, Josienne Clarke and Ben Walker give you the real thing. Both classically trained, their musical proficiency is beyond doubt. But this isn't about technical accomplishment. This is about a song, first and foremost. Whether interpreting words centuries old, or singing her own authentic lyrics, Josienne's jewel-like voice finds the nuance and melancholy in the simplest phrase and effortlessly sends it straight to your heart.
Ξ  Ben's musical tact and mastery of the guitar provide the perfect setting and allow the song centre-stage. Josienne was born in Sussex and Ben, in Evesham. It was after studying in London, and utterly by chance, that they met in July 2009. They have been working together ever since. Critical acclaim soon followed, along with the Isambard Folk Award and the FATEA award for Female vocalist of the year.
Ξ  Their work together combines an exquisite command of their instruments with lyrics steeped in the tradition of English songwriting, and in ageless stories of love and loss. Ξ  Two joint releases later, they've played as a duo alongside many of the living legends including Martin Simpson and Steve Tilston, and have just completed tour dates in Germany, the Netherlands and UK with more planned for 2013.
Ξ  Navigator Records, home of Bellowhead, Bella Hardy, Heidi Talbot and many other gifted musicians, will be releasing their new album 'Fire and Fortune' on 22 July 2013. Though influenced by greats such as Sandy Denny, Richard and Linda Thompson, Nick Drake, Bert Jansch and June Tabor, 'Fire and Fortune' marks two musicians who have resolutely found their own path through traditional English music.
Ξ  Their new album, 'Fire and Fortune' contains twelve tracks, some carefully selected traditional songs re-imagined; others equally carefully picked original compositions. This is timeless stuff, and its purity will stay with you long after the last note fades.

Josienne Clarke & Ben Walker — Fire & Fortune (2013)