Review: Seasonal Sevens: Summer & Autumn (2009)


artist: Emily Scott / Hélène Renaut; Pamela Wyn Shan­non / The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree
release: Sea­sonal Sev­ens: Sum­mer; Autumn
format: 7″
year of release: 2009
label: Autumn Fer­ment
dur­a­tion: 6:27; 5:55

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com (sum­mer; autumn)

The Sea­sonal Sev­ens are a series of 7″ double A-sides released by Autumn Fer­ment Records. Start­ing out in sum­mer 2009, each sea­son will see a new release, fea­tur­ing tracks from a vari­ety of con­tem­por­ary folk artists. So far, we’ve had a sum­mer and an autumn release, and the win­ter edi­tion is bound to fol­low soon.

Seasonal Sevens: Summer

Sea­sonal Sev­ens: Sum­mer

The first 7″, release on bright sun-bleached yel­low vinyl, con­tains pre­vi­ously released tracks by Emily Scott and Hélène Renaut. Scott, based in Edin­burgh, ush­ers in the sum­mer with a laid-back sweet track, sup­por­ted by Mal­colm Le Mais­tre and Pete Baynes on banjo and ukulele. A nice old-timey care­less sum­mer feel­ing is invoked. San Francisco-based Bre­ton singer/songwriter Renaut brings a shorter, bit­ter­sweet track that’s warmer and hazier than the first. Excel­lent picks by the label, as both tracks con­jure up a sul­try feel­ing with mod­ern folk that harks back to the 60s and 70s.

Seasonal Sevens: Autumn

Sea­sonal Sev­ens: Autumn

Autumn is rep­res­en­ted by two tracks I’d already heard on earlier releases. The clear brown vinyl holds “Wool­gath­er­ing” by Pamela Wyn Shan­non, taken from the album Court­ing Autumn, and “The Black­thorn Tree” by The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree, taken from their EP The Mil­dew Leaf. It might not be the best off her excel­lent album, but Shannon’s track is a warm and romantic song steeped in autumn atmo­sphere, gath­er­ing both actual and meta­phoric wool to keep the impend­ing cold at bay. The Magickal Folk of the Faraway Tree are one of the bands from out of the Deser­ted Vil­lage col­lect­ive, includ­ing a host of people act­ive in other pro­jects. “The Black­thorn Tree” is (or could pass as) a tra­di­tional folk clas­sic about love’s mys­ter­i­ous ways and wiles. An aus­tere and lov­ing per­form­ance, with vocal har­mon­ies by Dave Colo­han and Shane Cul­l­in­ane, and Sean Òg on flute.

Of the two, I think the autumn single is slightly more suc­cess­ful music­ally, because of its ori­gin­al­ity, but both 7“s man­age to cap­ture the atmo­sphere of the sea­son in a highly appeal­ing way. I recom­mend, there­fore, to treat the series as a whole, in order to exper­i­ence the full scale of sound. Any­one inter­ested in con­tem­por­ary folk is urged to check these out, and the price is no imped­i­ment, at only about five pounds each. They’re all lim­ited to 300 cop­ies, though, so act quickly if you still want the sum­mer and autumn edi­tions as well. Here’s to the next two!

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

Sum­mer
A. Emily Scott - Pond Dip­ping (3:40)
AA. Hélène Renaut - Bumble­bee (2:47)

Autumn
A. Pamela Wyn Shan­non - Wool­gath­er­ing (3:44)
AA. The Magickal Folk Of The Faraway Tree - The Black­thorn Tree (2:11)