Still The Heart is an EP featuring four new recordings from The Phil Langran Band following up on the wonderful album Jukebox Love Songs, Leaving Blues, Border Crossings & Lovers’ Laments – “a warm intelligent set of songs” (Ian Sinclair, Morning Star):
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Still the Heart is an EP of four Phil Langran originals featuring the band’s signature sound – lush close harmonies, sparkling intermeshed guitars, highly melodic sax and electric guitar lines, enhanced and underpinned by fretless bass. Through literate lyrics and intriguing melodies the songs tell of friends and family, of love and loss, and trust in the kindness of strangers and kin.
Like the band’s last album, Juke Box Love Songs (2011), the new CD is produced by Frank McCarthy and packaged in a gorgeous sleeve courtesy of Max Langran’s photography and Tom Partridge’s artwork. Two songs, Injury Time and Nothing More have been in the band set for some time, whilst Forsaken and Meeting by the River are new compositions. As Tykes News characterised Phil’s work, these are “proper grown-up love songs” featuring “premier league wordsmithery”.
The line-up features all the band on vocals, Phil Langran and Steve Benford on acoustic guitars, Pippa Marland on soprano and alto sax, Frank McCarthy on electric guitar and Mark Walker on bass. Still the Heart is dedicated to the good folk of Beeston, Nottingham, for giving us all a home from home.
Here are some reactions to previous releases:
“Musically astute and lyrically absorbing” … “A warm, intelligent set of songs for folkies”
– The Morning Star
“His vocals are utterly British and delivered with understated charm” … “The band synthesises folk, Americana, and blues influences to produce a languorous, folksy backdrop for the words”
– BBC Celtic Heartbeat
“Provides a smooth engaging listen for the folk music lover who likes it straight and true”
– David Hintz, Folkworld #49
The Phil Langran Band‘s last album featured songs based on the work of American poet Langston Hughes alongside composition by Phil Langran himself.
- Juke Box Love Song
- Lament Over Love
- Homesick Poor Boy Blues
- Leaving This Town
- Mother To Son
- Hard Daddy
- The End Of The Street
- Never Been To Harlem
- Harlem Night Song
- Harlem Night Song (Reprise)
“Although they hail from Nottingham, The Phil Langran Band’s new album has its origins in Harlem, New York City, the neighbourhood of the African-American poet Langston Hughes who was a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance in the early 20th century.
By combining Hughes’s celebrated words with his band’s gentle bluesy folk, Langran has created something both musically astute and lyrically absorbing.
But though Hughes led a politically engaged life, the record is very much a stroll through the more romantic side of his work. The liltingly beautiful opener Juke Box Love Song sets the tone with the affecting lyric: “I could take the Harlem night and wrap around you.”
Slightly more up-tempo, Lament Over Love comes close to the old time vision Bob Dylan mined so brilliantly on 2001′s Love and Theft.
A warm, intelligent set of songs for folkies.”
– Ian Sinclair, Morning Star, 22 January 2012
About the album:
“When I first encountered the work of the great American poet Langston Hughes, I heard the voices of the last long century and more. I heard solitary cries and massed choruses, public outbursts and whispered hopes. Hughes’ lyrical, angry, tender but always impassioned words re-drew the map of poetry for me. But they also re-drew the musical map, singing out everything from field hollers to old world ballads, love songs and leaving blues. I thought of Louis Armstrong recording with Jimmie Rodgers. I thought of Romeo, Juliet, Porgy, Bess, Bernstein, boogie-woogie piano, rock ‘n’ roll, and a lifetime in thrall to the blithe border crossings of American popular music. I thought of Mississippi John Hurt, Fats Domino, Robert Johnson, Tom Rush, Stephen Foster, Taj Mahal, New York, the Appalachians and something called the South. And I thought of my dad, making my first guitar and setting me on my way along this track by the shores of dreams. I no longer seek meaning, but I can recommend the company.
So this album is built around some settings of Langston Hughes’ poems, together with a few of my own efforts at catching the beat of the human heart. It’s dedicated to anyone who has ever been a child, and, of course, to friends and family, past, present and future.”
– Phil Langran
Phil Langran – vocals, acoustic guitar
Steve Benford – acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals
Frank McCarthy – electric guitar, vocals
Mark Walker – bass, vocals
Pippa Marland – alto & soprano sax, vocals
…with special guest Ian Beestin on drums
Vocal arrangments by Frank McCarthy
RECORDED AND PRODUCED BY FRANK MCCARTHY IN WEST BRIDGFORD, NOTTINGHAM
About The Phil Langran Band:
Phil Langran’s songs are a powerful combination of immediacy and slow-burning subtlety. Their melodies instantly take up residence in the mind while the lyrics pack a considerable emotional punch. This is set off to great effect by Phil’s line in dry, laconic humour which accompanies the live show. The songs and lyrics are masterpieces of succinctness – all coming in around the three minute mark – and seem to work effortlessly on several levels, belying the craftsmanship that has gone into their making. Phil is not only a fine musician but also a writer steeped in the poetic traditions of Robert Lowell and Langston Hughes. The result is a brilliant intertwining of Americana, Celtic, folk and blues themes in distinctive original songs. Like all the best songwriters, Phil has created his own genre, where Harlem nights and New York cityscapes rub shoulders with the West coast of Ireland and scenes from Werner Herzog’s films, and none of them seems out of place.
Phil is joined on stage by a group of musicians drawn together by the quality of his writing. The band features luminaries of the Midlands acoustic scene: Steve Benford (Big Jig, Alamootie) – acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals; Mark Walker (Tangata, Cliff Brown Band) – fretless bass, vocals; Frank McCarthy (Ali and the Cats) – electric guitar, vocals; and Pippa Marland (Carmina) – saxophones, Irish whistles, vocals. All feature on the new CD.
The band went down a storm at their Southwell Folk Festival debut and will be appearing over the coming months at festivals and folk clubs around the country. The new album looks set to reach a new audience for the band. Phil is undoubtedly one of the finest songwriters working on the acoustic scene today.