Spell Songs is a musical companion piece to The Lost Words: A Spell Book by author Robert Macfarlane and artist Jackie Morris. This mixed media CD is accompanied by sumptuous illustrations from Jackie Morris, new ‘spells’ by Robert Macfarlane, enlightening thoughts by Robert, Jackie and Spell Singer Karine Polwart and stunning photography by Elly Lucas. In 2018 Folk by the Oak Festival commissioned Spell Songs because of their love of The Lost Words book.
Spell Songs comprises eight remarkable musicians whose music engages deeply with landscape and nature; musicians who are perfectly placed to respond to the creatures, art and language of The Lost Words. They spent a week in Herefordshire bringing this music together in the company of Jackie Morris. Art inspired music and music inspired art.
Jackie Morris immersed herself in the musical residency where she generously created new iconesque artwork of each musician and their instruments portrayed in an unexpected and enchanting way. These stunning new artworks accompany the CD. Spell Songs allowed these acclaimed and diverse musicians to weave together elements of British folk music, Senegalese folk traditions, and experimental and classical music to create an inspiring new body of work.
Here are 14 songs which capture the essence of The Lost Words book. Spoken voice, whispers, accents, dialects, native languages, proverbs, sayings, birdsong, river chatter and insect hum all increase the intimacy of the musical world conjured by the songs. Inspired by the words, art and ethos of The Lost Words book, each musician brings new imaginings, embellishments and diversions which are rooted in personal experience, a deep respect for the natural world, protest at the loss of nature and its language and an appreciation for wildness and beauty.
In February 2019 Spell Songs enjoyed standing ovations at sell-out performances in major venues across the UK culminating at The Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre, London. Spell Songs was a highlight of The Hay International Literary Festival 2019 and in August 2019 they were invited to perform at the BBC’s Lost Words Prom in the Royal Albert Hall. They will continue to tour each year.
“There are songs here that would live with me for the rest of my years, even if I’d had no part in their making”. Robert Macfarlane