The Emily Askew Band
Emily Askew/Askew Music EA001"A seemingly magical process of transformation, creation or combination."
“She gets better and better. The multi-instrumentalist and specialist in early music won many new fans through that beguiling all-star folk collaboration The Elizabethan Session. Her musicians delve back further here, injecting danceable joie de vivre into material from the medieval era. John Dipper’s viola d’amore nestles against Jamie Roberts’s guitar. Unpredictable, impassioned and on the of the albums of the year so far.” Clive Davis - The Sunday Times
“Before writing a single word I will confess to an enduring passion for medieval and renaissance music, so bias declared. However, the fusion of medieval and renaissance melodies and songs with modern folk styles that pours through ‘Alchemy’ from The Emily Alchemy Emily Askew bandAskew Band is nothing short of gorgeous. And alchemy is precisely the right word to use ... not for the transmutation of ‘base metals’ into ‘noble metals’, more akin to the creation of a panacea to cure disease. Listen to this music and there’s little doubt that you will feel better and who knows your soul may soar ... mine certainly did.
This is more than mixing unusual instruments and experimenting with ancient sounds and modern treatments, ‘Alchemy’ is a consummate piece of work created by accomplished musicians. The span of music flows from 13th to 17th century taking in Guillaume d’Amiens, Guillaume de Machaut and Claude Gervaise, several anonymous works and an Emily Askew original. Opening with some classic French dance tunes ‘Bransles’, they include a secular Middle English song ‘Miri it is’ perfectly joined to the spritely ‘Allez a la Fougère’, before introducing a delightful rendering of ‘Cantiga de Santa Maria 42’ coupled to another dance ‘Bourée’. A stately version of ‘Play of Daniel’ morphed into a fiddle duet leads into the delicate ‘Guiseppe’ by Emily, from there the idiosyncratic ‘Douce Dame Jolie’ takes hold as does the wistful ‘Winter’ coupled to the buoyant ‘Tourdion’.
Alchemy’ brings to life music that might otherwise remain largely forgotten, reveals the depths that lie beneath the surface and truly does provide ‘balm for the soul.” Tim Carroll - FolkWords.com
Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
There is nothing bass metal about The Emily Askew Band, yet everything they have put down for their debut album, Alchemy, has the feeling of having a magic spell weaved around it, of succumbing to the incantations of the ancients and the charms of a dream summoned; the guild of sorcerers would have a gruelling time trying to match what is placed down in these scrolls and notes.
Weaving a tale can be challenging, making it interesting without sounding arduous or becoming a study of the fluff in the navel is sometimes problematic, for The Emily Askew Band, the combination between early music and modern perspective is illuminating, Alchemy, more perhaps pure chemistry, the amalgam of individual talent fused into a union, a federation of musical genius which takes the fiddle and harp of Emily Askew and entwines them with Jamie Roberts’ guitar, John Dipper’s viola d’amore and Simon Whittaker and Louise Duggan’s percussive skills in the udu, riq and Whitechapel cast medieval bells, and turns them into gold.
Chemistry is always important, without that science, of finding the right mixture, the founding basis of such exuberance and passion, may as well be stunted and maudlin. It is not an accusation you can label at The Emily Askew Band, for the discipline on show is exciting but also one steeped in the position of a memory of what perhaps we have lost along the way; in our chase for enlightenment we have taken several wrong turns, Emily Askew’s sentiment and remembrance, is a keen reminder that there is still time to turn away from the poison that has somehow got into our blood, the pursuit of avarice over knowledge, of coveting the insubstantial instead of praising the unconditional.
In tracks such as Play of Daniel/Guiseppe, Amore M’art, Winter/Tourdion, and Quant Voi Flor Nouvele/C’est la Fin, The Emily Askew Band have taken the magic and given it reality, a solid form, there is no feel of the whifferdil, of the spell being momentary, and fleeting. This is a powerful and dramatic boundless Folk and music from a period that may have been lost to time but instead is made giant and beautiful.
A brilliant debut, Alchemy is the potion and desire made authentic.” Liverpool Sound and Vision