Bird in the Belly are a new folk group formed of alt-folk artist Jinnwoo, traditional folk duo Hickory Signals, multi-Instrumentalist and producer Tom Pryor, and visual artist and musician Epha Roe. Their songs are akin to being huddled around a campfire listening to gothic folklore, or the rhythmic beauty of a well-written classical poem. For each song on their debut album ‘The Crowing’ is an old forgotten British story, long forgotten or never recorded. As a band Bird in the Belly are reigniting these past British voices and introducing them to today’s folk audience, by creating raw and visceral songs with a 60’s folk revival feel around them. A sound that straddles contemporary folk but with a charming and distinctive echo of more ancient times.
Whilst Bird in the Belly’s first single ‘Horace in Brighton’ (November 2017) – which picked up coverage by folk connoisseurs such as Genevieve Tudor of BBC Radio Shropshire and No Depression – was based on a rather jolly 18th century poem of the same name, their second single ‘Give Me Back My Heart Again’ showcases the darker side of folk in its forlorn heartbreak. It features traditional lyrics found in the Bodleian Broadside Ballad collection, written between 1877 and 1884.
‘Give Me Back My Heart Again’, was written, recorded and produced by the band and mixed by legendary folk label Fellside Records. It was released as a digital single on 2 February, with their debut album ‘The Crowing’ to follow on 23 March.
The group decided to find and record Britain’s forgotten stories – traditional songs and folktales that have either never been recorded before, or have very scarcely been recorded. They searched archives, libraries, book sales and blogs for lost and forgotten texts, and set these rediscovered words to their own contemporary folk compositions. Their aim was to reignite these forgotten British voices, and reintroduce these songs and stories into the contemporary folk canon.
These were songs and stories of death, love, poverty, immigration, work, and lust, that felt every part as human and relatable as songs from the present day. The group wanted to do these lost voices justice, and give them the best chance of survival within the contemporary folk scene. To strengthen their practice, the group set out on a research journey across Britain, interviewing folk legends such as June Tabor, Frankie Armstrong, Stick in the Wheel, The Rails, Naomi Bedford, Lisa Knapp, Gerry Diver, Fellside Records, Ian Anderson (fRoots magazine Editor) and Rob Young (author of Electric Eden) asking for their advice and guidance.
Bird in the Belly’s resulting debut album ‘The Crowing’ is visceral, raw, and at once contemporary and ancient. In style, the album harks back to the 60’s folk revival, aided by being mastered by legendary folk label Fellside Records. It is released on 23 March via GFM Records digitally and on CD.
Bird in the Belly are currently working on a film which documents the bands research into ‘The Crowing’, including recordings of the interviews undertaken above. This is set for release in 2019.
28 February: Folk Room, London (Album Launch)
1 March: Folk Room on Sea, Brighton
3 March: Tooting Folk Club, London
8 March: Costal Connections, Worthing
22 March: Lantern Society, London
8 July: The Sail Loft Folk Club, Essex