Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New Music 2017 - Part 13 - Oka Vanga - Dance Of The Copper Trail

Thanks to many people, not least the band, this is the next in a series of posts about new music that has grabbed my attention for all the right reasons.

Oka Vanga - Dance Of The Copper Trail (Crazy Bird Records, 31 March 2017).

Oka Vanga - Dance of The Copper Trail:
  • The Wicken Tree
  • Capercaille
  • Ashes To The Wind
  • She Moved Through The Fair
  • Don't Let The Clouds Roll In
  • The Devil's Tide
  • Song of the River
  • Rose of the Hill
  • My Sweet Guitar
  • Out Of The Fire
  • This Train
The heart of this duo is husband and wife Angela Mayer and William Cox, the former from South Africa and the latter from London, but what you get here goes far beyond anything that those facts might begin to reveal. This is their second LP, following 'Pilgrim' of 2014 that was instrumental. If songwriting and singing talent was hidden under a bushel then, neither is the case any longer! This album also features Patsy Reid from Scotland on fiddle and Oliver Copeland on double bass. The variety in the songs is just about perfect.
'The Wicken Tree' is a new revelation of many an old theme; 'She Moved Through The Fair' is a song about as venerable as any that can be reliably traced - the air is likely of mediaeval origin and may have origins in the music of south-eastern Europe. Regarded as of Irish tradition numerous versions, yet still recognisable as such, are to be found throughout the folk canon of the British Isles and especially so in the Romany communities of Ireland as well as further afield, particularly in North American tradition.
The lyric is usually adapted to fit the place and circumstance so it is probably rather recent by comparison. It has been serially adopted by players and singers wherever have found themselves, often far away from their native home, and this elective mutability is another key attribute of folk tradition.
You could 
sing about the hardships of cod fishing on the Newfoundland Banks when stuck in drought-stricken Oklahoma during the years of the dust bowl and depression, if only for the sake of remembrance. Most likely you would still sing but about things more immediate and pressing.

One of my particular favourites, given just a couple of listens through the whole album so far, is 'The Devil's Tide'.
I'm wondering if this has subconsciously to do with the fact that last week was the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster that was the wreck and foundering of the oil tanker 'Torrey Canyon' off the SW coast of Cornwall on 18 March 1967. The French called the shoreline pollution that the spill caused "la marĂ©e noire" - the black tide.  It is in fact about a quite different peril 
on the high seas - piracy -  and in this case a female pirate from Co. Cork, Ireland!

Here is the aforementioned 'She Moved Through The Fair' performed live:



There is also a song about the plight of coal miners 'Rose Of The Hill' and one about railways 'This Train', so that has most of my folk interests covered.
This is the variety you get here and it is well worth your time to explore it. Oka Vanga is well and truly added to my list of acts to see live.

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