‘Tennyson’ the new album, is released in Europe on August 22nd and in the UK on September 10th.
Paul Armfield’s fourth album is a rather unusual collaboration. The lyricist with whom he has chosen to work with is Alfred Lord Tennyson, the famous poet who died in 1892. Not only does the dead Victorian provide lyrics he also contributes vocals.
One of the biggest celebrities of his day Tennyson spent most of his life on the Isle of Wight where Paul now resides. Paul, who by day manages a local bookstore, says that he decided to set these poems to music in an attempt to better understand his fellow Islander.
‘Like many people I had always thought of Tennyson as pompous, overly-dramatic and out-dated, but on closer inspection I found a very direct and relevant voice. I hope that listeners will be surprised at how contemporary his poems sound in the settings I have given them’. With the likes of Andrew Motion in the front row of recent performances Paul seems to have achieved his aim.
The first song on the album is a deliberate attempt to wrong-foot any preconceptions, it being a trite nursery rhyme torn completely out of context from a much greater poem ‘Sea Dreams’. Elsewhere Paul has reset the much parodied music-hall favourite Maud, with double bass as the lonely accompaniment to the deranged ramblings of a stalker as he hides all night amongst the flowers awaiting a glimpse of his quarry.
Tennyson’s voice can be heard loud and clear on ‘Charge of The Light Brigade’ an account of an incident in the Crimean War where, due to an error of communication, a whole regiment of 600 men were sent needlessly to certain death. Recently a wax cylinder of Tennyson himself reading the poem recorded by Thomas Edison was found behind a radiator at the poet’s former home. On it’s own this recording is harsh and unintelligible, but Paul has chosen certain well known phrases that follow his own singing like a ghostly echo.
The only other voice on the album is that of Norwegian songstress, violinist and arranger Mari Persen. Bonded in mutual appreciation via Myspace Paul didn’t hesitate in asking her to be the voice of the mother singing the lullaby ‘Sweet and Low’. In this song the father of the baby is away at sea and thus we are introduced to three other poems of the sea, firstly the shanty ‘Sailor Boy’, leading into the atmospheric epic of circumnavigation ‘The Voyage’, and lastly ‘Crossing The Bar’ the seafaring meditation on Death that Tennyson asked be always last in any collection of his writing.
Despite the wonderfully playful fiddling of Donal O’Riain on the first track and some percussive bodhran by Doug Lang on Charge of The Light Brigade, everything else is played, recorded and produced by Paul in his modest home studio, including the operatic saw playing that closes the album.
Hailed as the ‘heir apparent to deathless troubadours such as Tim Hardin’ by Gavin Martin in the Daily Mirror, 43 year old Paul has received much critical acclaim for his ‘hobby’ especially for his self-translated renditions of lesser know Brel numbers. His song ‘Flagbearers’ is soon to be included on the next Folk Against Fascism compilation.
For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:
Daniel Zein at Artfull Sonds +49 163 2576350