Ange Hardy releasing an annual seasonal single has become something of a Christmas tradition in itself over the last three years; and I always look forward to receiving the latest one. Her prolific pen can always be relied upon to come up with a couple of new songs that sound both familiar, yet fresh at the same time – and always of high quality.
This year’s offering (2016) is a two-track single entitled ‘The Quantock Carol’. It is a song written whilst contemplating the uncertainty of the modern world, and hoping that the future promises the peace that she feels when viewing the Quantock Hills from her home. It is backed by the ‘B-side’ (if that’s the right term to use these days!), ‘Mary’s Robin’, which is based on a Gaelic legend of how the little bird came by its red breast. Both are purely unaccompanied vocal pieces and sung with Ange’s characteristically crystal-clear voice and delightful multi-layered harmony arrangements, skillfully woven into a whole.
The CD came in a card slip case with a simple, yet charming design, and lyrics printed on the reverse. Typical of Ange – and something I do like on any CD case – she has written a paragraph to explain each song. Also typical of the lady, it arrived in a specially printed envelope, which also contained a personalised Christmas card matching the single’s cover.
2015’s single was a three-track EP featuring the A-Side ‘When Christmas Day Is Near’. It is a song that Ange tells us she tried… ‘to write a song that captures the joy, hope and unity of Christmas’. It is backed up by the excellent ‘William Frend’ (a track taken from her album Esteesee – see my review #72); and ‘Solidarity’, a song ‘written the day after the 2015 Paris attacks at the Bataclan, with heavy heart and hopeful soul’ she says.
This too arrived with a Christmas greetings card matching the CD slip-case, contained in a specially printed envelope. And again had useful explanations.
2014’s offering was another EP: ‘The Little Holly Tree’; backed by ‘The Wanting Wife’ (taken from her album The Lament Of The Black Sheep – see my review #32); and the traditional and beautiful 12th Century Irish hymn ‘The Wexford Carol’.
The singles (and in fact all of Ange’s back catalogue of work) are available from her website. Samples of her songs can be heard there too. Merry Christmas to you. PTMQ