Joshua Burnside, like many of us, is trying to deal with and adapt to the current situation we find ourselves in. Burnside has released a new EP of old traditional folk songs that he wonderfully recorded from a cupboard under his stairs. ‘Far O’Er The Sounding Main’ has been released exclusively on Bandcamp.
If you have seen Burnside play before you will already have a heads up on how great his musical ability is. His voice to many is his main instrument and Burnside knows how to use his strengths to his advantage. Here, he takes old folk songs and gives us his spin on them.
The first track, Come My Little Son, a story about a father who has left Ireland to work on the roads in England and how his son is missing him, is probably the most recognisable song to many. Burnside captures this song with his beautiful harmonies and soft acoustic guitar, singing the lines, “Remember that he’s still your dad and though he’s working far away, in the cold and heat of the hours of the week on England’s motorway,” followed gently with the banjo strumming in the background. Burnside captures the feel of this song perfectly which I’m sure this will bring back many memories and tears to peoples’ eyes.
The Bonny Bunch of Roses was apparently first recorded in 1965 but to some, the earliest known version of the tune dates back to 1881. Burnside starts this song with the sound of water falling and a distant fade of thunder in the background. There is no other music in this track but Burnside carries the whole story through this vocals, with layers of deep harmonies really showing us his vocal range, singing you the story of the conversation between Napoleon’s wife and their son. This song really gives you an idea of just how strong Burnside’s folk singing is, making you think of how others may have sung this song many centuries ago.
Eileen Aroon, a song that has been covered by many musicians, is the story of a young woman who wanted to get married to a nice young man but her father would not let her. One night a young man dressed up as a piper and went to Eileen’s castle and was playing and singing songs, singing, “Will you come or will you stay Eileen Aroon?” Eileen Aroon left with him.
Burnside gives us his version of Eileen Aroon starting with his vocals singing us the tale. The cello comes in at a low hum so deep that you can feel it in your stomach along with violins and banjos twiddling on top to pick the song up but again, it’s Burnside’s harmonies and wonderful folk voice that hold your attention from the start to the very last note.
If you are a fan of folk music and tales then Burnside has wonderfully captured all of this, really showing us just how amazing he can be, especially given that he recorded this whole EP from his own home. I’m sure after listening it will make you want to start deep diving in search of old traditional folk songs. You don’t get to hear many stories told like this anymore in today’s music, so Burnside creating this EP I’m sure will open up many ideas for fellow musicians to try.