One of the issues in living at the end of the world is that I know I miss out on some amazing music (although I still hear way more than the average person so shouldn’t moan too much). Apparently this is the second album by singer songwriter Becky Mills, following on from ‘Dandelion’, and all I can say is that if the debut is as good as this then I definitely need to dig it out from somewhere. Formerly a member of all-girl band ‘Waking the Witch’ she co-wrote two highly successful albums, but since 2000 Becky has pursued a mainly solo career becoming a very accomplished performer in her own right. She has collaborated with a number of other musicians including Ken Nicol (ex-Steeleye Span) and multi-instrumentalist and singer Ruth Angell. The last couple of years have seen her perform as a duo or trio with Ashley Hutchings and Ruth, who both join Becky here, providing backing vocals and violin respectively. Others involved include Jonny Short on cello, Blair Dunlop on electric guitar, Marc Layton-Bennett on percussion and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne on concertina.
This certainly doesn’t sound like an album from 2019 (apart from the production), but something which should have been released some forty or fifty years ago. Although there is a band available, there are times when it is just Becky and her guitar, some reverb, and the most wonderful songs. These are all in the story-telling tradition, and she has also been influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell as well as our own Sandy Denny and Judy Dyble. The one which resonated most with me was “City In My Lungs” as the city girl is married out into country gentry, and how each side had to deal with each other and how this changes over time. I can imagine this particular song being performed by Mundy Turner, full of bounce and vigour, as well as some vitriol.
Mills took inspiration from the lives of family members past and present, incorporating superstitions, folklores and mysteries of the North Yorkshire Moors into half remembered snippets and bedtime stories told to her as a child. “I have always loved the folk story-telling tradition” explains Becky “I remember as a child the tales my mother told me that she had been told that would change with each passing year – a new detail here an extra character there. The stories evolved in the retelling like the travelling storytellers of old” “What I have done with these stories is taken my memory of their telling and added the next detail”. It is a delightful album from start to end, full of passion, life, great song and stories, and a way of welcoming the listener into her stories. A special mention must be made of Paul Hopkins and Dave Creffield, whose production is both deft and powerful, allowing Becky to shine at all times. If ever an album deserves to be played on headphones, then this is it.