Bridie Jackson and the Arbour are a Newcastle quartet of folk-influenced musicians; creating works of haunting beauty, both sparse and detailed. With rich vocal harmonies and subtle string arrangements, they are led by Bridie’s remarkable voice and evocative wordplay, at once dark and playful, joyous and melancholic.
After their debut album Bitter Lullabies was released in 2012, the band began touring nationally and the changeable seven-piece line up was soon condensed to the quartet of Bridie, vocalist and percussionist Carol Bowden, cellist and double-bassist Jenny Nendick and fiddle player and vocalist Rachel Cross. Rapidly gaining widespread acclaim, they received radio play on BBC 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 Music, played live sessions for Dermot O’Leary and Radio 4′s Loose Ends, won a Journal Culture Award for their Arts Council funded project, Music in Museums, and performed on multiple stages at the legendary Glastonbury Festival, having beaten over 8,000 contenders to win the 2013 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition.
“Bridie and her Arbour are a midnight dark yet airily bright breath of fresh folkish air”
“Refreshing unpretentious and movingly soulful”
- The Telegraph
“Beautiful yet haunting”
- The Guardian
On their second album New Skin, released in May 2014, the group’s melting pot of influences have formed a breathtaking new whole. Supported by awards from Help Musicians UK and City Music Foundation, this fully realised work has seen them head out on a 19-date headline UK tour, play sessions for Radio 3′s In Tune and Tom Robinson on 6 Music, as well as gaining support from the likes of Lauren Laverne, Guy Garvey, Steve Lamacq and The Telegraph.
From the sweeping Eastern European-tinged drama and Björk-esque strings of ‘We Talked Again’, to the dark bluegrass of ‘Diminutive Man’ stomping in the boots of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, they flex their range and musical prowess more than ever, yet it is never at the expense of Bridie’s disarming vocal and poetic turn of phrase.
From vintage Joni Mitchell through to Laura Marling, the accompaniment is powerfully restrained, steeped in musical history yet with both eyes looking forward in the unique and inventive arrangements. Indeed, the songs display an effortless beauty and intrigue to set them apart from typical folk artists, calling to mind the timeless aura of idiosyncratic chanteuses Regina Spektor and Joanna Newsom.
“It seems absurd that more bands aren’t making music that sounds like this. But then maybe the truth is that music like this is very hard to make. The Newcastle four-piece have an obscene amount of talent, and they use it to do things other bands wouldn’t even think of.”
- For Folk’s Sake