Devin Hoff rethinks Anne Briggs

It is never too often to ponder the recordings of Anne Briggs – a major voice of the folk revival of the sixties and seventies, a true bearer of the torch for ancient songs, sung with a stark simplicity that can’t help but draw out the disturbing strangeness they embody.  Devin Hoff has been thinking about Anne Briggs for a decade, and the renowned bassist has now recorded an album which revisits the music in a striking manner – with a series of collaborative partners providing the vocal parts. It’s called ‘Voices From the Empty Moor (Songs of Anne Briggs)‘  and is out on October 1st.

The complete tracklisting of ‘Voices From the Empty Moor (Songs of Anne Briggs)‘ is:

She Moved Through the Fair (trad. arranged by D. Hoff; basses-D. Hoff)

Go Your Way (words and music-Anne Briggs; vocals-Sharon van Etten; basses-D. Hoff)

Let No Man Steal Your Thyme (trad. arranged by D. Hoff; vocals-Julia Holter; basses-D. Hoff)

Maa Bonny Lad (trad. arranged by D. Hoff; saxophone-Howard Wiley; basses-D. Hoff)

Living By the Water (words and music-Anne Briggs; vocals-Shannon Lay; basses-D. Hoff)

The Snow It Melts the Soonest/My Bonny Boy (trad. arranged by D. Hoff; oud-Alejandro Farha; bass-D. Hoff)

Black Waterside (trad. arranged by D. Hoff; vocals-Emmett Kelly; basses-D. Hoff)

Willie O’ Winsbury (trad. arranged by D. Hoff; drums-Jim White; guitar and basses-D. Hoff)

The Lowlands (trad. arranged by D. Hoff; bass-D. Hoff)

In advance of the album release a video for ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’ has been released – that’s Julia Holter on vocals, but the ‘priestess‘ in the video is another Anee Briggs admirer, Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists.  Speaking of the song Devin Hoff has said: “I learned ‘Let No Man Steal Your Thyme’ from a recording of Anne Briggs singing a capella, which is how she often performed and recorded in the 1960ʼs. I wanted to underscore what I hear as the proto-feminist warning in the centuries-old lyrics against the archetypal socialized male who “takes what he can find.” The arrangement was written to feature my good friend and amazing musician Julia Holter singing against a doomy quartet of Double Basses. The melody of this song is timeless, and unfortunately the message is as well.


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About Jonathan Aird 1597 Articles
Sure, I could climb high in a tree, or go to Skye on my holiday. I could be happy. All I really want is the excitement of first hearing The Byrds, the amazement of decades of Dylan's music, or the thrill of seeing a band like The Long Ryders live. That's not much to ask, is it?

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