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Award-winning poet releases first single from debut album

Award-winning Cornish poet Lawrence Illsley has released his first single 'Ogres'.

Lawrence Illsley

The song is taken from his forthcoming debut album Trees, which is due out on 26th February. The release coincides with his second collection of poems, A Brief History of Trees (Live Canon, 2020), winner of the Live Canon Collection Competition 2020.

Trees sees Lawrence return to his first loves – songwriting and performing, sometimes joined by his friend, the inspirational folk singer Sarah McQuaid, who contributed backing vocals to the album.

Ogres is a poignant song about the importance of friends during a time of crisis and resonates with the contemporary idea that it is “#oknottobeok” as the popular hashtag puts it. The song is the centrepiece of the album Trees, which was inspired by the sudden death of Lawrence’s mother from pancreatic cancer. After a year of living with grief, Lawrence felt compelled to document and preserve the songs he used to share with his mother in front of the roaring fire at her house on the cliffs in Trewellard, Cornwall. Travelling home one last time, twelve months after she died, Lawrence recorded his guitar and vocal parts for Trees in that same living room. What emerged from those sessions is a deeply personal album that exists both as a memento to his childhood home and as testimony to the power of song to kindle and sustain memory.

Lawrence’s songs and poetry do not shy away from the deep emotions or the difficult truths that surface in times of sorrow. His work encourages conversation, and by sharing his experience he offers hope to others who may have suffered loss. The poems in Lawrence’s collection A Brief History of Trees touch upon the events of that terrible year and show how Lawrence found solace in music and in walking through local woodlands.

Many of the tracks on Trees appear in the narrative of the poems: a performance in Pendeen church of Sing Me A Love Song, a gig by the Thames of Ogres and Long Lost Rover. To complete the cycle, the booklet of Trees contains a new, original poem, A hospital birch, Trewellard, which tells the inside story of the weeks Lawrence spent recording the album.

The music and words of this multi-disciplinary project are complemented by a series of original photographs inspired by trees and woodlands, which form part of the artwork for the album and can be viewed on Instagram at @abriefhistoryoftrees.

Trees will be released by Tiny Tree Records on 26 February 2021 and will be available for streaming via Spotify, Apple Music and other platforms; it can pre-ordered now from Bandcamp, with Ogres as an immediate free “instant gratification” download. A Brief History of Trees is available from Live Canon.