Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin – Mynd
MYND (Old English: Memory/remembrance/memorial/record/act of commemoration/thought/purpose/consciousness/mind/intellect)
“Folk music is an attitude, it’s an awareness of one’s heritage, and it’s a community. It’s subcorporate music that gives voice to different communities and their struggle against authority” (Ani DiFranco).
For an example of the folk music DiFranco describes, you need not look any further than Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin’s second studio album ‘Mynd’.
Here is a pair of brilliantly talented muscians from the West Country who have a captivating ability to add beautifuly textured music, thought provoking lyrics and a time-forgotten soundscape to their contemporary brand of English folk music. The stunning vocals from the duo are added to sterling slide guitar skills and harmonica beatboxing of Phillip, with haunting violin strings and playful banjo plucking coming from Hannah. A subtle backing of other-worldly sounds beneath all this create an album that you cannot help but tether a deep connection to.
The track one of this album introduces the tone of the record impeccably with ‘Silbury Hill’. A tale of the disconnection of ancient times from the rat race of the modern world with “the strange alchemy of the bankers, turning debt into gold”. An instant bated hook for this writer.
The socially conscious theme is continued by the next track, ‘The Nailmakers Strike’. This song tells the story of a protest march dating from the 1860′s by the striking nail makers who were fighting for better wages and working conditions. The nail makers and their families live and worked in horrible conditions for little reward and, power to them, regularly staged strikes and protests. Then, as is now, they were broken up by the law keepers of the time…. Bastards. Regardless this is a great song that picks up a story that should never be forgotten.
The whole album is full of little gems that make people aware of personal and societal struggles from throughout history to the present day. From old stories like that of the first woman to receive the gold medal from the Royal Astronomical Society (‘Song for Caroline Herschel’) to the homage to Marie Colvin, the journalist killed in the 2012 siege of Homs in Syria (‘Last Broadcast’).
This is an immensely important album and fully deserves all the plaudits it has been receiving. It brings important historical context to struggles that are continuing today, provides shining examples of overcoming adversity and shows that whatever the struggle is, if it’s worth fighting for then keep fighting. La Lutte Continue*.
Moreover, let’s not forget, these guys are a fantastic pair of musicians that truly do justice to the topics they are singing and playing about. This form of song writing has undoubtedly been lacking in contemporary music scenes and I for one welcome this true folk music with open arms and hope that you do to. Just try it and you’ll see what I’ve been talking about.
Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin’s ‘Mynd’ is out now on the Dragonfly Roots Label and you can find all you need to know about their September UK tour dates at www.philliphenryandhannahmartin.co.uk.
*‘La lutte continue’ means ‘the struggle goes on/continues’. The phrase is used in particular in connection with political struggles.
About the author
I'm currently studying English Language as an undergraduate at Sussex Uni. I love music with a passion and a good debate is where I like to be. I would probably argue the colour of snow with an Eskimo if given the opportunity! I'm a pacifist, a bit of a lefty and I hate the rubbish that we are continually fed everyday by the government, media, banks etc. Love music though, just so we're clear LA LUTTE CONTINUE