I played one of my very first solo shows at The Bedford in Balham, London when my band at the time, the-low-country, got stuck in such bad traffic coming down from Cambridge that they missed the show. Somehow I managed to make it through on my own and afterwards, a young, Swedish man came up to me and introduced himself as Ruben Engzell and explained that he had just moved to London from Stockholm, Sweden and was working at a studio in Brixton.
Not long in to our conversation, he asked me if I’d like to record a solo album. The timing was perfect. I’d just started to write songs that didn’t fit with our band sound and wanted to do something a bit different. I moved to London, wrote a bunch of songs and we spent lots of late nights, after Ruben had finished doing his paid work as an engineer during the day, in Iguana Studios, working until the early hours of the morning. It was a process that took a couple of years. Not having any budget to speak of, we managed to blag young musicians down to the studio to play their instruments in return for meals, which I would cook in the studio kitchen. Some of those musicians included, Gill Sandell, Jo Silverston and Anna Jenkins, who stuck with me and later went on to become The Red Clay Halo. That was nine years ago now!
Another person who featured on the album was Steve Adams of The Broken Family Band (now releasing records as Steven J. Adams) who I had met in Cambridge and supported numerous times. He was the first to sing my murder ballad 'Fields of June' with me.
The artwork is provided by my long-term friend and collaborator, Patti Gaal-Holmes. The album was our first collaboration and since then we have made many film/song performances together and shared many a cup of tea talking about our shared stories of ‘home’.
We ended up releasing two versions of the album, both on my label, Everyone Sang. The first edition was a limited version of 1000 copies and had fourteen songs in total. When that edition sold out, we put together a second edition. We added a version of ‘Home’, a song that had originally been recorded with the-low-country, but we also cut three songs to make it more compact.
On this new version, we have added those three songs as bonus tracks. I don’t think they’ve been available up to now in any form other than on that original limited version. Those songs are: 'Splinters in my Fingers', 'The Fire' and 'Reason for the Rain’. The CD will also come in a new gatefold card sleeve with a fold-out booklet that shows off Patti’s original painting...
All this takes me back in time: I’d just moved to London; just met The Red Clay Halo; just met Ruben Engzell (who I later collaborated with again on the Vena Portae album); just met Patti, and many others who inspired songs... I was essentially still travelling about at the time. Who would have known that nine years on, I’d still be living in the UK and collaborating with all those people.
released April 1, 2007
All songs written by Emily Barker (published by Normal Music/Domino Publishing)
Produced by Ruben Engzell
Recorded, programmed and mixed by Ruben Engzell at Iguana Studios, except tracks 3 and 12, which were recorded and mixed by Sean Diggins at The Tone Room.
Mastered by Sean Digigns at The Tone Room
Artwork by Patti Gaal-Homes
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.