We review Ruth Hazleton
By Rob Dickens
It has taken a while for this to come across our desk here at Listening Through The Lens, but we are sure glad it eventually did. Our interest was piqued when we saw her performance at Port Fairy Folk Festival last month.
Ruth Hazleton‘s Daisywheel was released on 22 November 2019 via MGM Distribution. What a remarkably compelling and traditional folk document it is.
First, let’s explore the derivation of the title.
The daisy wheel (or hexafoil) is a circle with six petals within it which has been used for centuries in Britain and more recently in Australia, etched into mantlepieces, door frames, window frames and furniture. Folk lore has it that the daisy wheel symbol wards away bad spirits and dispels the dark.
Ruth Hazleton is a talented singer and humanitarian historian. She has brought an authentic eye to her work over a twenty-five year lauded career. Surprisingly, Daisywheel is her solo debut album outing.
Equipped with an electric guitar utilising tradition Celtic tuning and a five-string banjo, Hazleton and producer Luke Plumb have assembled ten songs – four originals, five traditional tunes and a Henry Lawson poem (“Past Carin'”) for which she composed the music. Listening through the tracks though it is hard to determine which is which, such is the cohesion here.
Things get even better in the studio where brave decisions are taken to employ a variety of instruments to reflect Eastern European, Middle Eastern and old-time American music, as well as more modern genres to create a glorious intermingling of styles and sounds.
To this point, the list of musical ingredients on the cover provides some insight:
Ruth Hazleton: vocals, electric/acoustic guitars, claw hammer banjo, piano, shruti box
Luke Plumb: electronic programming, fiddle, piano, acoustic guitar
Oscar Neyland: double bass and ambient effects
Justin Olsson: drums, percussion
Tim Meyen: cimbalom
Paddy Montgomery: oud & yayli tambur
It is hard for this writer to imagine a more authentic and heart-felt album coming out of Australian shores in 2020.
Below is a live clip of an original song “Shackled (Song For Nudem Durak)”. In 2015, Durak was sentenced to over ten years in prison for the charge of “promoting Kurdish propaganda” by performing in her native language. In July of 2016, with no additional charges or convictions, her sentence was increased to nineteen years. She is currently being held in prison in Bayburt, Turkey, scheduled to remain until 2034.
“Black the night, I am bound
A silent bird in a foreign cage
March of men, the bells are ringing
Poets shackled in iron chains”
“The mother tongue of stateless pilgrims,
Threaten the pillars of prison walls,
Guards lay siege to the songs of children,
Fettered by thieves as darkness falls”
We review Ruth Hazleton