Improvised pianos echo within a Medieval farmhouse whilst ethereal vocals meander across the craggy stone landscape of rural Ireland – their atmosphere highlighted by prog-goth guitars, sweeping strings and rousing percussion.
Strangers is the new album by the Sussex-born (UK) singer/songwriter RISE (previously Talitha Rise) and the follow up to her internationally acclaimed debut ‘An Abandoned Orchid House’. RISE’s (aka Jo Beth Young) new musical journey weaves together intimate and cinematic stories marrying reverberations from the past with the struggles of the present day.
Exploring themes of love, loss, rebirth and transformation, RISE says:
“David Gray once wrote a line that has stuck with me – “and when we meet again, we will be strangers”. That, in a nutshell, is the idea behind this album. This album traverses the challenge of the personal ‘abyss’ and the emergence from the bleakness of loss and separation. This gives way to hope, wisdom and the taking of responsibility.
Each location adds another layer of meaning and context to the stories within each song. I wanted these songs to be a conversation with the land, the place, the history that I was in at the time but it is intertwined with some of my own intense personal experiences.”
Some of the more noticeably improvised pieces are like characters that RISE channels through the stories the lyrics bring to life. For example, ‘The Old Sewing Woman’ tells the story of a life lived unfulfilled whilst ‘Strangers’ speaks of a husband returning from war so changed that he is now unrecognisable. The inevitability and bitter-sweetness of change is apparent throughout.
“It’s unbleached of humanness, with the sounds of life discernible in the background. A cello bows hit the mic, piano pedals and stools creak, a dog barks. For me, this reflects the intimacy and ‘realness’ of each song.”
Although her debut was somewhat nomadic in recording, the production did include many hours in the studio with Martyn Barker (Robert Plant, Marianne Faithful, Goldfrapp). The follow-up however, has not been near a studio at all. In her first fully self-produced album, RISE worked distantly with her live band and guests such as Peter Yates (from the legendary The Fields of The Nephilim) and then transformed each track into something deeply textured from the seclusion of the west coast of Ireland.
This will also be the first record RISE releases the via her own label, Wise Queen Records. Pre-orders are currently up on her Indiegogo campaign and include coloured vinyl, lyric books and some quirky Strangers themed experiences and perks.