The Imagined Village: new album

It was not until I began listening to Okinawan music that I re-discovered my own English musical roots. For it isn’t just in pockets around the world that great roots music is found. It’s there all around us. Some years ago I began listening again to traditional English folk songs and to some of the adventures in English music that a new generation has been exploring. For, despite what the English themselves might think, they do have a rich heritage of songs and music which is just as much a part of the ‘world music’ scene as Asian, Latin, and African music. The Irish have long understood this but too many in England still have a negative image of the traditional music in their own backyard.

The Imagined Village began as a concept or project in which Simon Emmerson, Martin Carthy and others got together to explore traditional music and to experiment by devising new arrangements and adventurous instrumentation. After touring the songs and releasing a debut album in 2007 they appear to have developed into a fully-fledged band and this year released an even more successful second album entitled ‘Empire and Love’ (Emerson, Corncrake & Constantine).

Empire & Love by The Imagined Village

The band now comprises ten members, and these include Martin Carthy and daughter Eliza Carthy, founder member Simon Emmerson,  singer and songwriter Chris Wood, percussionist, dhol and tabla player Johnny Kalsi, and Sheema Mukherjee of Transglobal Underground. The Napoleonic war song ‘My Son John’ is updated on the new album to make it even more relevant to the 21st century with its reference to Afghanistan, while traditional English songs ‘Byker Hill’ and ‘Scarborough Fair’ are both given completely new workouts by the band. And it isn’t all old folk songs – most surprising is Martin Carthy’s slow and poignant deconstruction of Slade’s anthem ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’ which becomes a totally different (and much better) song in his hands.

The Imagined Village is a band with an all inclusive agenda and this is an album that rightly celebrates the varied musical influences of a multi-cultural England. The sitar on English folk song has seldom sounded so right.

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One Comment on “The Imagined Village: new album”

  1. Keith Gordon Says:

    Very true, I have been guilty of this kind of thinking in the past where English folk music to me only meant morris men, Arran jumpers and real ale pubs. Was reminded of this when watching the excellent BBC ‘Folk Brittania’ documentary last night. I’ll plead ignorance and the lure of more exotic lands/cultures/musics. When I was growing up the sounds of The Bhundu Boys and King Sunny Ade were far more appealing than that of my hometown Northumbrian pipes. I am trying to right that wrong more recently – though I still have trouble getting past some of the more lyrically whimsical stuff…


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