Fara, one of the freshest sounding groups to have emerged on Scotland’s folk scene recently, play the Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham on May 23.
The band has been writing and recording together since 2014. But the quartet – fiddlers Kristan Harvey, Jeana Leslie and Catriona Price, alongside pianist Jennifer Austin – have been honing their sound ever since they grew up together on the Orkney Islands.
Following their 2016 debut album, they are ready to unveil their second long-player Times From Times Fall – a celebration of their homeland packed with self-composed tunes and songs primarily drawn from the words of Orcadian poets.
Spokesman James Wallace said: “Developing the vibrant arrangements, rich harmonies, energetic fiddles, driving piano and stunning vocals heard on Cross The Line two years ago, Times From Times Fall saw the band co-writing many of the tunes’ melodies. They found working together in one room to be a wonderful team-building experience, and one which gave rise to new and different ideas. That included using the three fiddles in a manner almost akin to how they already employ vocal harmonies, adding further layers and texture to their sound. In addition to three writing retreats, some of the music had its genesis on the road in America as the band spent several weeks touring across the pond prior to recording at Castlesound Studios, just outside Edinburgh, in June.
“All four musicians found working with top Scottish folk guitarist Anna Massie as producer and studio owner Stuart Hamilton as engineer to be a warm and rewarding experience. Inspirational themes range from Orkney’s emigration history and scientist James Clark Maxwell’s discoveries to Jeana’s propensity to add extra letters to words (The Depliction) and her childhood confusion at Catriona’s German mother’s use of the word ‘nein’. The album title, a line from Song (Love Gathers All) by Edwin Muir, was chosen as a reflection on the passage of time and how long the band have known one another. That shared upbringing colours everything that Fara have become, and gives them a playful poise and instinctive musical understanding more commonly found in groups that have toured together for decades. All four women say the process of working together as adults has created something of a Fara sisterhood. Twinned with a musical know-how acquired through study and time spent recording and performing within a diverse array of prominent projects, that makes for a potent creative mix.
“They cut their cloth at top educational establishments (The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal Northern College of Music, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Strathclyde University).”