The Seven EP by Lizzy Hardingham (read Jon Kean’s review here) was more than a lovely set of songs about the sea. Pledging half of the proceeds of this release to the RNLI was a generous gesture and another factor to endear us to her hugely.
Now Lizzy takes some time to tell us about the inspiration she finds in the music of Kat Gilmore and Jamie Roberts.
As a touring folk musician and singer-songwriter, I don’t have as much time to go to gigs as I once did. If we’re being honest, I used to spend perhaps a third of my pay going to gigs and festivals each month! Despite this, I will always carve out the time to go and see Gilmore & Roberts.
I first caught them as the support act on Fairport Convention’s ‘Wintour’ in the late 2000s. I was inspired by the synergy of the duo; they had an intense musical bond that you’d usually only find in related groups like the Everly Brothers or Chris and Kellie While. They had studied together at Leeds College of Music and were clearly both very consumate musicians.
As a young fiddle player and singer who had begun to dabble in the guitar, this was just the type of energetic, passionate and powerful music that I was striving for. I left the gig, signed CD in my little hand, feeling elated that I’d found something that resonated so much. It was later that year that they appeared at the Cropredy Festival, and by this time I’d internalised all of the songs they’d released at the time. So there I was, at the front of the crowd, wailing my little heart out to music that would carry me through some of my most formative years and beyond.
When I began to write my own material I took massive influence from them, whether knowingly or not. Some of my favourite songs in their back catalogue are Fleetwood Fair and Hunter Man. They tell peculiar and rather haunting stories of sinister men from the woods and ghostly, disappearing fairs. It was this sense of mystery and wonder that bled into the songs I was and still am writing.
They also play with such creative flair; Katriona incorporating an exciting and raw fiddle style, intricate mandolin and passionate vocals, and Jamie delivering awe-inspiring guitar parts and stunning musicianship (and a delightful, thick Barnsley accent). I find their style so enticing, they manage to bring together so many different genres and sensibilities without any of them being muffled or diminished.
However much my musical tastes change and broaden, there will always be a Gilmore & Roberts track in every playlist or mix CD I ever make. Their 2012 album, The Innocent Left, is arguably my favourite. I challenge you to find any other musicians capable of putting a poignant and melancholy homage to their SatNav on the same album as a rollicking number about the first doctor to perform a successful caesarean!
To me, their music is timeless, cool, and typifies what modern folk music should sound like. They solidified this with Just A Piece Of Wood: a tribute to the bond between Katriona and her violin. “New friend but quick to etch a permanent relief upon my heart… the one material possession, I would mourn if you were gone.” This beautifully crafted song is, in my opinion, a song that every single musician wishes they could write.
Folk Radio UK put it pretty succinctly by saying they are “capable of making you dance, cry and think…a masterclass in songwriting and a lesson in how to present songs”.
Our thanks to Lizzy for her words as we all now scurry back to our collections to dig out the Gilmore Roberts albums.