I love these alternative versions of the 'Murmuration' songs. The stripped down instrumentation creates an intimite vibe, while the poem intertwines them into a concept-like album. As a result, this is a new album that stands out on its own and that is more than just a complement to 'Murmuration'. 'Ordinary' already was a beautiful song, yet 'Extraordinary' adds something extra for me. And because the piano intro somehow calls up some recognition. Another beautiful album by Emily Barker!
Favorite track: Extraordinary.
I say "new", but it'll be familiar to you because it's a collection of reimagined versions of the songs from A Dark Murmuration of Words. Actually, it's a little more than that – let me explain...
Recording A Dark Murmuration of Words was a wonderful immersive experience that involved my live band and multiple conversations with producer Greg Freeman. It was only as the album was coming together that I realised how all the songs intertwined...how, despite their different subjects, there was an underlying theme that tied them all together.
That realisation found an outlet not only in the album itself, but also in a poem I wrote soon after the recording sessions were over. I've always been a fan of poetry, but until a couple of years ago, I'd never written any myself. I took the plunge by signing up to an online course, and began to share my new work with some Stroud-based poet friends. I found it an exciting new outlet for conveying thoughts and ideas that wouldn't necessarily fit within the confines of a song.
The poem I wrote after recording of A Dark Murmuration of Words is called Murmuration Songs. Writing it helped me find the thread that runs through the songs on the album, and I'd intended to include it within the album's artwork, but I'd just read a book about poetry by Mary Oliver who said she edits her poems roughly 50 - 70 times, and so I knew my poem wasn't quite ready for sharing. I needed to sit with it longer.
Cut to March 2020. It's usually through touring that I get to explore alternative arrangements of songs – perhaps during a soundcheck when a piano calls me to it and I hammer out a guitar part, replacing steel strings for ivory keys. But with no gigs on the horizon, Lukas and I decided to bury ourselves in our studio in Stroud and went to work on rearranging the songs.
As we were recording, my thoughts went back to the poem. This was the perfect opportunity for me to present not only new versions of the songs, but also the poem I'd held back. I recorded the poem as a spoken word narrative that threads its way in between the songs; a new flight path for the songs to follow, like a rhyme...
...so it became Flight Path Rhymes. You'll see that in reimagining the songs, I have renamed them too. In the main, they are simpler names for their more minimal vision, but still clear enough as to which are which. The poem crops up in fragments throughout the album. It's not going to make any sense in shuffle mode, so I hope you'll allow the poem to lead you along a new journey over familiar territory. Lukas and I had a wonderful time discovering new things about these songs, and I hope you'll enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed playing and recording them.
released April 30, 2021
All songs by Emily Barker (Normal Music / Domino Publishing) except:
Return (orig. Return Me) by Emily Barker and Ted Barnes (Copyright control)
Landscapes (orig. Geography) by Emily Barker and Graham Gouldman (BMG Rights Management UK Ltd.)
Emily Barker is the award-winning songwriter and performer of the theme to BBC TV’s Wallander starring Kenneth Branagh. Her music is a blend of roots influences from country to English folk via 60s pop.
supported by 33 fans who also own “Flight Path Rhymes”
John Drumbo French from Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band worked with Thompson on two albums along with Fred Frith and Henry Kaiser.
Those two French, Frith, Kaiser and Thompson albums led me to this.
Also, Richard Thompson taught Hugh Cornwell (of The Stranglers) how to play the bass guitar in a band when they were both at the same school (Emil and The Detectives?).
With a career spanning 50 years and playing with two of my heroes (French and Cornwell) Thompson has produced a fascinating EP.