Sarah McQuaid – album launch and Cornish gigs

As this isn’t a commercial site, I don’t usually recycle press releases, but the launch of Sarah McQuaid’s new album and two other gigs locally will interest an awful lot of people hereabouts. I’m certainly looking forward to hearing the whole album.

Benefit Gig in St Buryan Church Marks Launch Of New Album By Cornwall-Based Singer-Songwriter Sarah McQuaid

The new solo album by award-winning Cornwall-based singer/songwriter Sarah McQuaid will be launched on 15 October with a very special benefit concert in – and for – St Buryan Church, where the album and its accompanying video series were recorded and filmed.

Born out of the pandemic, The St Buryan Sessions is Sarah’s sixth solo album, and is her most powerful and emotive offering yet. It had its genesis in the spring of 2020, when Sarah’s gigs and tours were cancelled due to COVID-19.

Thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, she was able to finance a live solo recording (sans audience) in the lovely medieval church of St Buryan, not far from her home in rural West Cornwall.

“I’ve been living in St Buryan for fourteen years now,” Sarah explains, “and it’s been incredibly heartwarming how my family and I have been welcomed into the life of the village. I kind of thought when we first moved here that we’d be shunned as ‘blow-ins’, but that hasn’t been the case at all, and I’m so grateful.

“I’m also incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to record the new album in such a gorgeous space, and I really wanted to be able to give something back.”

The launch takes place on the album’s worldwide release day, Friday, October 15. In order to make it accessible for all in the local community, no entrance fee will be charged, but there will be a voluntary retiring collection for church funds.

“We are absolutely thrilled,” says churchwarden Fiona Vinnicombe. “The Parochial Church Council is hugely indebted to Sarah for suggesting the concert in aid of maintaining our wonderful historical building as well as its work and ministry within the community.

“We’ve recently completed the renovation of the tower, along with the installation of a kitchen area and toilet so that the whole community can use and benefit from this magnificent building in the centre of the village.

“This project cost us £180K, which was all funded by grants, donations and many fundraising events. Apart from these major projects, we need to raise £900 every month just to pay our utility bills and general expenses for running the church.

“We are always so grateful for any help we can get, and particularly from a performer of such high calibre.”

Two further Cornwall dates feature later in the six-week, 21-date tour that follows the launch: Praa Sands Community Centre on Saturday 30 October and Sterts Studio near Liskeard on Sunday 28 November.

Conceived as a concert set and including such fan favourites as “In Derby Cathedral”, “The Sun Goes On Rising” and “Yellowstone”, the album is a journey not only through a wide range of instrumentation and styles, but also through the spectrum of emotions that Sarah evokes in her performance and invokes in the listener.

Sensitively captured by her longtime sound engineer and manager, Martin Stansbury, with the aid of ambient microphones placed throughout the church, the sound of Sarah’s voice and music soars through the stunning acoustic space as she moves between acoustic guitar, piano, electric guitar and floor tom drum, performing songs that span her 24-year career – from “Charlie’s Gone Home”, originally recorded on her 1997 debut album When Two Lovers Meet, to electric guitar based pieces from her most recent studio album If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous.

Two previously unrecorded covers feature on the album: the classic jazz standard “Autumn Leaves”, on which she demonstrates the full dynamic range of her lush, distinctive voice, and a cover of “Rabbit Hills”, written by her dear friend (and past producer) Michael Chapman.

This second piece was commissioned by Michael’s wife as a gift for his 80th birthday and sees Sarah at the beautiful grand piano that resides in the church, her compelling, heartfelt delivery revealing the depth of her immersion in the rich imagery of Chapman’s evocative lyrics.

“I’m particularly indebted to the St Buryan Male Voice Choir for giving me permission to use their gorgeous Yamaha concert grand for the recording,” adds Sarah. “It was left to them in a bequest and it’s such a fantastic instrument to play. I wish I could take it on tour with me!”

The recording was filmed by Cornish filmmaker and director Mawgan Lewis of Purple Knif with the aid of Eden Sessions veteran camera operator John Crooks. The fruits of their work can be seen on Sarah’s YouTube channel – https://youtube.com/sarahmcquaid — where Lewis’ 9-minute documentary “The Making Of The St Buryan Sessions”, featuring interviews and song snippets, can also be viewed, along with a 59-second promo video about the album and tour.

The St Buryan Sessions is now available to pre-order via https://sarahmcquaid.bandcamp.com on CD and limited-edition blue vinyl double LP, together with T-shirts, tea towels, tote bags, ultra-limited-edition test pressings, and the full concert film on a 16GB engraved wooden USB stick, all bearing Sarah’s original artwork.

A six-week UK-wide tour will follow the album launch and continue through the end of November. Sarah’s 2022 tour plans include the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland and the USA. See https://sarahmcquaid.com/tour for details of all shows.

High-resolution photos and album cover artwork are available for download from https://sarahmcquaid.com/media-kit – also see https://sarahmcquaid.com/about for full biog. Download links for the album (including a 12-page PDF booklet with credits and other information) and hard copy CDs are available on request.

Contacts:

Sarah McQuaid: <sarah@sarahmcquaid.com>, Tel. +44 1736 810807
Martin Stansbury: <management@sarahmcquaid.com>, Tel. +44 7977 470498

See https://www.stburyanchurch.org.uk for contacts and further information about St Buryan Church.

Blue Remembered Hills – early demo

I wasn’t particularly planning to do any more Housman settings, but this one suddenly demanded my attention. It does require more work – some guitar, at least – but I think the melody is mostly there. And if you’re going to set Housman, I suppose you have to consider the ‘Land of lost content’. And having (half) done this one, there are two or three more I think I’d still like to put music to. We’ll see.

Backup:

‘A Shropshire Lad’ XL

Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
And cannot come again.

David Harley

Woods in Moonlight – demo

You might call this a sketch for the end of summer… Definitely not intended as the final version. By way of an experiment, the guitar here is tuned to ‘B Standard’, like a baritone guitar.

Backup:

Sometimes your words at midnight stream through my memory
But your face is growing dimmer: I don’t know how it can be
That you’re gone from my life, yet you still haunt my dreams
And daybreak finds me wondering just what it all could mean

Walking through the woods in moonlight, there are no words left to say
I stumble blindly through the shadow as the long years slip away
And only now I realize that it’s too late to count the cost
And I can only write those words to make my peace with those I’ve lost

So many nights lost, lamenting all the days
Opportunity knocked, but that same night it ran away
Your voice in my ear, your breath upon my skin
Closer than sweat, warmer than sin

Another morning broken, and reconstruction fails
Once more my train of thought has gone completely off the rails
But soon the world will turn without us, and new days won’t be broken
By the words we should have said or the ones best left unspoken

Crossing the Bar – demo 2

Backup:

I’ve posted a guitar-accompanied version of Tennyson’s poem before, but it suddenly occurred to me in the middle of the night that it might sound nice with a free-reed accompaniment. Since I don’t play concertina etc., I had to fake it with a Yamaha keyboard.

Needs work!

David A. Harley

New album – Kitsch and Canoodle

Available, as ever, on Bandcamp.

Kitsch and Canoodle

David A. Harley

Songs of love, lust and obsession. Come to think of it, that probably accounts for my entire output.

All vocals and instruments by David A. Harley. Words and music for all songs by David A. Harley except ‘Quirks and Crotchets’, for which Alan Doyle wrote the tune, and ‘Back in the Day’, for which Alison Pittaway wrote the lyrics. Cover photograph by Jude Harley.

  1. Let Me Lie Easy
  2. A Rainy Day Blues
  3. Please
  4. Quirks and Crotchets (Doyle-Harley)
  5. This Guitar Just Plays The Blues 2021
  6. Her Own Way Down
  7. Back In The Day (Pittaway-Harley)
  8. This End of the 1960s
  9. Can’t Sleep
  10. Never Look Back
  11. New Ends and Sad Beginnings
  12. Two Is A Silence
  13. The Jailer
  14. What Do I Do?
  15. Song Without Warning

Wheal Alice Music WAM21-11

Wish that I’d said that – demo

Lyrics by David Harley – music by Alan Doyle

I had some things to say, but you took me by surprise
I can’t believe the words you said, or the look in your eyes
You don’t want me in your life, you said “Go and don’t come back”
You told me you don’t give a damn and I wish I’d said that

I thought that we could talk, but you beat me to the punch
I thought you were really something else, turns out you’re just out to lunch
You said “Don’t talk, just walk, don’t stand around, get off my back”
You said “I just don’t want to know” and I wish I’d said that

It’s too late to change your mind now your back’s against the wall
Now all I want from you is the chance to see you crawl
But I’ll take you at your word, and I never will look back
Turns out that I don’t give a damn – don’t you wish you’d said that?

 

 

White Noise – demo

A second song for which Alan Doyle provided a tune and added some words. 🙂 I think this will probably have a fairly synth-y feel when I’ve learned it properly, but while it obviously needs polishing, this will be the basic shape.

By Alan Doyle and David Harley

Backup:

The puppet master has turned his back
On the farewell appearance of the men in black
But he can’t stop thinking ’bout the shape he’s in
Heavy water seeping through his skin

Input/output all of the time
There’s only white noise out there on the line

He’s got the moves, but he’s worn so thin
He tried to be polite, but they cut his strings
His voice is rusty and his chords are crude
His fingers are raw and his head is screwed

Input/output all of the time
There’s only white noise out there on the line

White noise [white noise] in the air
White noise [white noise] everywhere
White noise [white noise] all around
White noise [white noise] the only sound

His skin is crawling, his resistance is low
There’s an overload building with nowhere to go
The feedback generates so much heat
He’s got to boost his signal out in the street

Input/output all of the time
There’s only white noise out there on the line

….There’s only white noise at the end of the line

David Harley

 

Quirks and Crotchets demo

This is a collaboration with Alan Doyle, who wrote the tune and tweaked my lyrics. 🙂

I’m planning to include a cleaner (I mean better recorded, not less obscene!) version of this on a forthcoming album called ‘Kitsch and Canoodle’, but this is probably most of the way there.

Two lost souls living in a bedsit
Lying there back to back
She’s close to weeping, he pretends he’s sleeping
But he’s wondering what to pack
Someone needs to say ‘sorry’
But it seems that it won’t be him
They want to be happy, but they’d rather be right
So the chances of that are slim

Sometimes it’s OK just to let it all go 
And it really doesn’t matter who’s right
Sometimes it’s OK just to let it all go
And it really doesn’t matter who’s right

Two lost souls standing by the bus stop
Neither finding words to say
He’s packed up his troubles in his old rucksack
But no one’s smiling today
Someone needs to say ‘sorry’
But neither seems to want to know
They want to be happy, but they’d rather be right
Instead of flattening the bumps in the road

Sometimes it’s OK just to let it all go 
And it really doesn’t matter who’s right
Sometimes it’s OK just to let it all go
And it really doesn’t matter who’s right

Two old dears standing in the bus queue
Neither has a lot to say
He’s got the shopping and she’s got his arm
So it must have worked out OK
And they’ve learned to live with each other’s quirks and crotchets
And the angry words that quickly lose their bite
They wanted to be happy, and they want to be right
But they’ve learned to put the past behind

Sometimes it’s OK just to let it all go 
And it really doesn’t matter who’s right
Sometimes it’s OK just to let it all go
And it really doesn’t matter who’s right
It really doesn’t matter who’s right

David Harley

New album – Cold Iron

Yes, I know it’s not a good sales strategy to put out so many albums so close together, but I’m trying to get this stuff out there, and not really expecting to make my fortune at this time of my life.

All music by David A. Harley. The author of the 18th century lyric to ‘They Hang The Man’ is unknown, and the words to ‘Nowhere to Nowhere’ were written by Alison Pittaway. Piano on ‘London 1983’ by James Bolam. All vocals and other instruments by David A. Harley.

All rights reserved.

Here’s the album: Cold Iron

And here’s the track ‘For Phil Ochs’ which is in a way the foundation stone of the album:

Anyway, here are what would be the sleeve notes if I was releasing it as a physical album.

I suppose you could say that all songs are ‘social comment’ – I don’t care for the term ‘protest’ since I associate it with the 1960s phenomenon of well-fed pop singers whining about plastic people and how awful everything is – but I’ve always leaned towards songs that weren’t exclusively about ‘my girl friend left me’.. Still, I never felt I had to distinguish between ‘love songs’ – perhaps we should say songs about people and their relationships – and songs with a wider topical resonance. If a song demands to be written, I don’t take no notice because it’s in the ‘wrong’ genre or context.

Still, I had some difficulty in placing a couple of the songs in this collection because they’re ‘folkier’ – OK, acapella – than most of my output. So I finally went for an album of songs that fit together because they’re more about social comment and less about personal relationships (fictional and otherwise). That doesn’t, of course, mean they don’t fit into other contexts. Some have already been released on other albums, and others are likely to be in the future.

The album’s title comes from a poem by Kipling, though his conclusion in that poem, and indeed his politics in general, often diverge from my own convictions. On the other hand, I think he would have agreed with the relationship between iron as a foundation of weaponry and iron as a symbol or element of the supernatural.

Gold is for the mistress — silver for the maid —
Copper for the craftsman cunning at his trade.
“Good!” said the Baron, sitting in his hall,
“But Iron — Cold Iron — is master of them all.”

And here’s the tracklist.

  1. London 1983 (Harley) 06:28
  2. They Hang The Man (Anonymous-Harley) 01:43
  3. Song of Chivalry II (Harley) 03:58
  4. Nowhere To Nowhere (Pittaway-Harley) 02:11
  5. Soldier (You Come, You Go) (Harley) 01:06
  6. Long Stand (Harley) 03:00
  7. Orpheus and his Loot (Harley) 01:51
  8. For Phil Ochs (Harley) 05:35
  9. Calvary (Soldier of Fortune) (Harley) 01:30
  10. Paper City (Harley) 05:25
  11. Hands of the Craftsman (Harley) 05:35
  12. Jerry Jingalo (Harley) 01:06
  13. Circle (Harley) 08:14
  14. Diane (Going Out) (Harley) 05:19
  15. Paper Tiger (Harley) 02:37

 

David Harley

 

Old White Lightning demo (revisited)

[backup]

Ancient version remastered (somewhat). I don’t currently sing this one, but if I did these are probably the words I’d use.

I went down to see my lady
But someone spread the news all over town
I said ‘I don’t mind what you call me,
But won’t you keep your sweet voice down?’
Might have been old white lightning
Might have been old sloe gin
Might have been barley, or it might have been malt
But it’s really done me in

If I go back to see my lady
I know just where she’s at
She’s got an ice-pack for my aching head
And an ice-pick for my back
Might have been old Sal Stacey
Might have been Lucy-Lynne
Might have been Lisa, might have been Liz
But she really did me in

I think I’ll steer my feet to the river
Marking time to the thump in my head
I think I might just die of too much wine
And it’ll save you changing the bed
Might have been smack or cocaine
Petrol or paraffin
Might have been Bostik or North Sea gas
But I swear it’s done me in

David Harley