The band sounds striking on record but has an extra dimension live; a tension born of fragility and an authority seated in sheer skill… These girls must tire of people saying how good they are yet I struggle to name a finer and more original act on the acoustic/folk circuit today.
Bridie’s voice took my breath away from the very first note. The string arrangements are heavenly, her voice is gorgeous and the songwriting sits somewhere between the lushness of Norah Jones and the quirkiness of Joanna Newsom. A very special sound indeed.
‘New Skin’ Album Reviews
4 / 5 stars – They’re subtle crowd-pleasers, building their sound from ornate four-girl harmonies, strands of cello and violin, piano and guitar. Ancient-sounding laments outnumber brighter moments, but that only heightens the austere beauty of it all.
4 / 5 stars – Who knew that Choral flavoured Folk music could be this cool? …a breath of fresh air blowing across a very stale and dusty Folk music scene. Discover numerous shades and subtle changes of tempo and mood normally only found on Classical Recordings… NEW SKIN will transport you into corners of your consciousness you thought only accessible by strong drink or illegal medication.
Collectively the tracks on New Skin provide an intimacy similar to that of a film or the musings of one’s mind. The blend of vocal harmonies and space between the strings allow the music to drift like smoke, dancing, drawing us in on a physical and emotional level. It’s the sort of music that stops you in your tracks, that provides meaning to the deepest feeling that you’d otherwise struggle to find.
This could quite easily soundtrack a scene from something as similarly layered as Game of Thrones. It’s beautiful yet bleak and has an otherworldly air that’s all their own.
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. New Skin more than delivers, at once both intimate and wildly ambitious with a sound all of its own.
Folk, Gothic, Eastern European—conflicting and complementary, such traditions and other traditions are drawn upon here with a solidity and confidence that allows them to blend together seamlessly—and the deceptive, fluid simplicity of the final work is indeed its chief strength.
An evocative, inimitable sound… ‘Haunting’ is one of those adjectives that gets bandied about frivolously and liberally in music journalism but here no other word will do.
There’s an intoxicating chill to the sound, a wintry purity that often belies the very earthy, passionate nature of the lyrics.
‘Prolong’ Single Reviews
Song Of The Day: Bridie Jackson & The Arbour are seriously awesome, and ‘Prolong’ proves exactly why 8,000 other fine bands had to settle for watching Greg James on BBC3 all weekend.
What an amazing record that is… don’t change a thing, it’s absolutely gorgeous
Haunting and spellbinding, with dazzling wordplay and astonishing delivery “Prolong” is sort of track to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.
This is acoustic folk at its most exciting and original.
Carving out a unique sound in the over-crowded UK folk market is no mean feat, but Bridie Jackson & the Arbour have managed just this; putting a dark spin on the traditional folk sound. Hailing from Newcastle, the quartet cleverly fuses delicate instrumentation and soaring harmonies to craft songs of notable quality.
One of the most original and unique bands we’ve heard all year, melding traditional folk with hints of dark gothica and a graceful touch of the otherworldly.
Harmonies so soothing they should be prescribed by doctors as a means of curing stress.
‘Scarecrow / All You Love Is All You Are’ – Single Reviews
Gorgeous vocals, simple piano and understated strings… a runaway favourite on the Listening Post.
All You Love Is All You Are is a ballad worthy of Guy Garvey or any A-lister at their best. Unequivocally beautiful, haunting, clever and worthy of so many looped listens.
4.5 Stars – It’s pointless trying to draw comparisons to other artists. Nobody I have heard makes music anything like Bridie and The Arbour—maybe one day somebody will—imitation will doubtless remain the sincerest form of flattery, but the original will always be the best.
It’s one thing when a band comes forward with a ‘new’ genre of music; it’s another when a band offers something timeless… An ominous and beautiful single.
Single of the Month: A real folky winner; a beguiling, lilting enchantress of a song, which features some quite beautiful cello work and is dripping in gorgeous harmonies.
A heart-stoppingly lovely song. Scarecrow is horrific in content and glorious in composition.
‘Scarecrow / All You Love Is All You Are’ is a release of the elegant, refined persuasion which embraces the changing face of the folk genre yet utilises a cello-enforced string section in a definitely genre-advancing way.
Their minimalist blend of percussion, strings and piano serves to nurture Jackson’s edgy vocals. The result is dark and ethereal, a sound comparable to the likes of Laura Marling.
A powerful yet ethereal soundscape that revolves around Bridie’s captivating singing voice and darkly beautiful string-centred arrangements… Superb.
It’s not every day you get to hear an 18th century folk song discovered from the Northumberland archives alongside folk covers of Pink Floyd (Fearless) and Justin Timberlake (Cry Me A River). But then it’s not every night you’re treated to a goosebump generating set from the winners of the Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition. Opening with the haunting We Talked Again which starts with a pitch perfect crystal clear vocal from Bridie and then builds and builds with layers of strings and harmonies that tug at your heartstrings like an emotional puppet master. One song in and the audience is already captivated.
It’s always a thrill to find out that an artist I’ve covered fairly breathlessly on ANBAD is also good live; it’s more of a thrill to discover they surpass all expectations entirely. It was old ANBAD favourites Bridie Jackson and the Arbour who knocked my socks off last night… And indeed, they were brilliant. Everyone told me they would be, but they were deeply, very impressive.
With no exaggeration, if we were to die tomorrow we’d be happy to pass away with the knowledge that we’d had the pleasure to witness Bridie’s voice live, a thing of subtle yet powerful loveliness. Did we melt a little? No, not just a little – completely.
Quite unlike anyone else playing on the night and with an inspired harmony-led sound it was a pleasure to watch them play.
Over 8,000 acts had vied to win a spot on the main stage at Glastonbury 2013 and we were now down to the last eight, or 0.1% of entrants. The odds suggested that high watermarks would be set and first act, Bridie Jackson & The Arbour, just about flooded out the place with its beguiling blend of break-out folk… To no one’s surprise, Bridie Jackson and The Arbour took the prize and the evening’s main plaudits… an original and magical performance.
One of the most exciting acts in the modern folk scene, with Jackson’s north east of England lilt reminiscent of Northumbria’s The Unthanks and with an epic delivery that left the crowd duly impressed.
There are some events that make you want to rush up to the band afterwards and say “THAT was amazing” and there are others where you want to say “YOU are amazing!” – I just experienced the latter. The four musicians are one of the tightest bands I know… the compositions and arrangements seem utterly unique and their delivery heart-wrenching. The backdrop of humour and camaraderie helps to foster an inclusive atmosphere lacking in so many folk gigs.
If you haven’t seen the Arbour live, you really should – the combination of cello, bell plates and Jackson’s voice is a magical thing.
Voices that reach incredible heights of emotion & pitch. Incredible musicians and beautiful songs. It’s not often that you get to witness a performance like this – although I suspect BJ&TA make jaws drop every time they play….
Undoubtedly one of the hits of 2012’s Frontier Festival with their enchanting, ethereal accapella show. This is a live experience not to be missed, based in folk but elusive to ultimate definition with nods to jazz, blues, but mostly just Bridie, wistful, but powerful.
Bridie Jackson and The Arbour had a casual, unassuming stage presence, but were nonetheless captivating with a haunting bluesy style (which completely won over this punk rock fan enough to purchase one of their very affordable CDs afterwards).
Their celestial fiddles and cellos, belleplates and four-part female harmonies took the Tanworth Lunar Festival rain-splashed crowds by the scruff of their hearts and gave them a good shake-down – in particular their – by invitation – cover of local boy Nick Drake’s ‘Way To Blue’.
Every time I see them live they seem to be an even tighter unit and the trademark harmonies a little more spellbinding… Powerful, dark and utterly unique, Bridie Jackson and The Arbour will doubtless continue to entice more followers into their own remarkable world.
From the moment Bridie Jackson arrived on stage you knew it was going to be a special evening. A capacity home crowd helped, but it was more about the atmosphere Jackson creates, working up magic from seemingly simple elements. The haunting first song, We Talked Again (also the opener on the Bitter Lullabies album) was electrifying, just Bridie’s rich, clear vocals over a delicate, spine-tingling bell plate pattern, harmonies and a pulsing cello. The impact was astonishing and from thereon in, she had us.
This event… was so much different to the last occasion that I saw Jackson, two years ago. She was impressive then, but tonight there was a very expectant, and exciting, atmosphere from the large audience, as she upped the ante even further. Backed by an ensemble which included a terrific cellist and talented violinist… Her songs are intense and emotional, with strange endings, and it was great to hear them in a live arena.
The night was all about Bridie Jackson, who has been gigging in the North East for five years and clearly amassed a legion of fans. Bridie’s voice is clear, strong and sweet, while her compositions allow that voice to fill the room… The Arbour adds a warmth and depth to that crisp clarity. But it is her casual, kick-off-my-shoes confidence which draws the audience in. She is a natural performer and looks both at home and in her element on stage. By the end of the gig she is announcing to the 500-strong crowd, ‘So, we’re off to the pub. Do you want to come?’
Bridie Jackson has created a live performance that has gained a critically acclaimed reputation. Strong, passionate, and totally absorbing, Jackson’s mastery over her vocals shapes the striking energy each of her gigs is formed upon. It is this high praise that has perpetuated Jackson’s ability to tour extensively and aide her DIY promotional efforts, with many fans learning of her music through a wildfire of word of mouth.
‘Bitter Lullabies’ Album Reviews
I’ve not been able to get Bitter Lullabies off my player… It really is that captivating. It’s also like almost nothing I’ve ever heard before (and I’ve heard an awful lot of music over the past half-century!)… the stark yet ravishingly luxuriant Bitter Lullabies is just brilliant.
Every now and then an album comes along that takes your breath away with its bracing originality, bringing something previously unheard to the genre. With lyrics as evocative as the music, this is intoxicating listening, from a name that seems destined to set the folk world ablaze in the months to come.
Embraced by fans and critics alike on the Contemporary Folk/alt/NuTrad scene… (Bitter Lullabies) enraptured minds and hearts with its chiming enchantments and gossamer fine threads of soul-garroting poetic ballads, airs and lays both old and new and timeless in-betweenness.
**** – One of this album’s great strengths is it’s power to intrigue and surprise. Beautifully sung, performed and produced, it’s an impressive debut album.
***** – On playing this CD, the listener will definitely experience something new, buzzing with understated power and vitality… The songs demand attention and won’t let go until they get it. What does the future hold? Great things, for sure.
‘We talked again’ encapsulates the careful craft of strings and vocal harmonies which reflect the album as a whole. With an eerie sense of intimacy, (it) rests within shades of melancholy and mystery, and ultimately sinks into your soul with a climatic warmth.
Closing song ‘All You Love Is All You Are’ is also one of the most perfectly constructed and heartbreakingly beautiful ballads I’ve heard in a long time and rounds off the emotional connection that runs so vividly through the entire record.
And there we have it. The 1st extremely beautiful album of 2012. …I was immediately amazed by it’s pure beauty. This is folk with some soul and blues mixed into it, and the fine way the voices are entwined in a few songs even made me think of gospel.
Like many of the tracks from this debut offering from Bridie Jackson and the Arbour, We Talked Again wouldn’t be out of place on a film soundtrack, gently building to a crescendo that turns it almost into an entirely different song.
A unique record of startling beauty. Ethereal, ghostly, and cinematic in scope, the tracks largely reflect the traditional folk sound, though retain a modern accessibility.
Amongst the already wonderful and unexpected offerings there is still room to throw in an occasional curveball, the gypsy jazz jive of ‘Mucky’ or the gospel soul vibe of ‘Please Forgive Me My Human Ways’ show that she is not a one trick pony.
Bridie Jackson has the kind of voice that really commands your attention… in the way it seems to hang, spectrally in the air, beamed in from the outer reaches of time and space. Her debut album is replete with rich layers of instrumentation… with influences taking in everything from gospel to baroque melodies, echoes of which can be found in the work of Joanna Newsome and Feist.