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The drowned lover and other dark tales

by Paul James

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Compact disc with gatefold digi-pack sleeve and 4 page colour information booklet. Designed by Joe James with original artwork by Robin and Bryony Spiers and photography by Jeremy Prout.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The drowned lover and other dark tales via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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The Drowned Lover (traditional English folk song) As a sailor was sailing away from his shore, The waves and the billows so loudly did roar, He wrote to his true love, I shall see you no more, So farewell, my dearest, you're the one I adore. As his true love was walking down by the bay, She saw a drowned sailor on the beach where he lay, And as she drew near him, it made her to stand, For she knew it was her true love, By the marks on his hand. She put her arms around him, saying "Oh there my dear", She wept and she kissed him ten thousand times o'er, And she was contented to lie by his side, And in a few moments, his true love she died. Down in the old churchyard these two were laid, And a stone for remembrance was laid on their grave, Their joys are now ended, their pleasures are fled, And the grave that they lie in is their married bed.
The topman and the afterguard (traditional English folk song) As a topman and an afterguard were walking one day, Says the afterguard to the topman, I mean for to pray, It's for the rights of all sailors and the wrongs of all men, And whatever I do pray for, You must answer me, Amen. First I'll pray for the bosun with his little stick, For he bawls out, All hands boys and gives us a lick, He strikes many a brave fellow and sends him a-main, May the devil double triple damn him, Says the afterguard, Amen. I'll pray for the purser who gives us to eat, Spew-burgoo, rank butter and musty horse meat, With the weevily biscuits while he gets the gain, May the devil double triple damn him, Says the afterguard, Amen. I'll pray for them navy officers they are holding up our due, We're owed three year’s wages and prize money too, It's: You can't have it yet Jack, try next voyage again, May the devil double triple damn him, Says the afterguard, Amen. And the last thing I shall pray for it’s a pot of good beer, For the Lord gave to me the liquor, our spirits to cheer, And when we have one pot, I wish we had ten, And we’ll never never want for grog my boys, Says the afterguard, Amen.
One night as I lay on my bed I dreamed about a fair young maid I was so distressed I could take no rest Love did torment me so So away to my true love I did go. When I came to my love's window I boldly called her by her name Saying: It’s for your sake That I’ve come here so late Through this bitter frost and snow So open the window, my love, do. My mother and father are awake And they will surely hear us speak There'll be no excuse Then but sore abuse There’ll be many a bitter word and blow So begone from my window, my love, do. Your father and mother are asleep, And they are sure not to hear us speak, For they're sleeping sound, On their bed of down And they draw their breath so low. So open the window, my love, do. My love arose and she opened up the door And like an angel she stood there on the floor Her eyes shone bright Like the stars at night And no diamonds could shine so So in with my true love I did go.
Wakeful 06:36
Big corn 04:37
I'll sing you a song about two young lovers, Who from Lichfield town they came, The young man's name was William Taylor, The maiden’s name was Sarah Gray. William Taylor, he enlisted, For a soldier he has gone, He’s gone and left his own true lover, For to sigh and for to mourn. Sarah’s parents, they did despise her, They filled her heart with grief and woe, And then at last she vowed and told them, For a soldier she would go. She's dressed herself in man's apparel. Man's apparel she put on, To go and seek her own true lover, For to find him she has gone. One day as she was exercising, Exercising with the rest, A silver chain fell from her waistcoat, And exposed her lily-white breast. The Sergeant Major he came up to her, Asked of her what brought her here, "I've come to seek my own true lover, Who has proved to me so dear". "If you've come to seek your own lover Pray tell to me his name", "His name, it is Bold William Taylor, And from Lichfield town he came". "If his name is William Taylor, William Taylor he’s not here, He lately married a rich young lady Worth ten thousand pound a year." "If you rise early in the morning, Just before the break of day, There you will see Bold William Taylor, A-walking with his lady fair" She called out for sword and pistol, Sword and pistol she put on, She’s fired and shot bold William Taylor, With his bride at his right hand.


It's daunting making an album on your own! You start with silence, a blank canvas, and fill it with ideas until you have something you think works. There's nowhere to hide so you have to come out of your comfort zone. The theme is quite dark, there's death and disappointment, anxiety and things that go bump in the night ... and happy things too. You enjoy the good things in life more if you understand the down side.

It was important to me for the whole thing to be as home-made as possible and to see what I could do with very limited resources. I used everything I had lying around in my home studio. So there’s bagpipes, loops and samples, soundscapes made by manipulating homemade acoustic sounds into new digital sounds, a band playing with the amps turned up to 11, hurdy-gurdies, string and horn sections, Balkan drums, toy pianos, the bells of the village church, a schawm and a tin whistle. I've always been fascinated by drones and there's a lot them too.

I set out to do some interpretations of traditional English songs with strong stories, that are as relevant now as then, and one cover - the late Desmond Simmons's song 'Big Corn'. A song about selling out and disappointment. Des was an old friend and an incredible songwriter. He died suddenly in 2013. "Big Corn" says a lot about the area where we grew up around Newbury. So, the songs tell stories and I wanted the instrumentals to be about something too. 'Wakeful' is about insomnia and the long wait for the dawn; 'Once there was a lone wolf' is inspired by the idea of emerging from the wilderness to be confronted by a modern technological city for the first time; 'Falco e colomba' is about the historic landscape and the view from Walbury Hill where I live; and 'Dulcinea de la Mancha' is about remembering a train journey across the hot, arid plateau of central Spain.

A lot of the album is me playing all kinds of instruments and singing but I also got in touch with people I’ve known at different points in my musical life, in England, Europe and Australia, and asked them to collaborate. I've tried to do justice to what they did.


released October 18, 2016

Guests: Andrew Hobday - bass guitar. Andy Taylor - violin. Beth Porter - 'cello. Carlos Beceiro - braguesa, bouzouki. Chris Moore - piano. Clare Rawnsley Hawkins - vocals. Damon Sawyer - drums. Enrico Negro - acoustic guitar. Fiona Barrow - violin, viola. Gigi Biolcati - percussion, toy piano. Gregory Jolivet - hurdy-gurdy. Laurence Hunt - drums. Llew Kiek - bouzouki. Mara Kiek - tapan. Romain Baudoin - hurdy-gurdy. Simon Houlihan - organ. Sylvan Biscoe - baritone sax. And special thanks to Victor Nicholls - electric guitar, fretless bass guitar, lap steel guitar, loops, f/x, ipad apps, tuba.

Paul James - vocals, saxophones, border bagpipes, bass guitar, drums, percussion, piano, electric piano, organ, other keyboards, synths, samples and programming, gralla, schawm, whistle and concertina.

Produced by Paul James. Recorded and mixed in Inkpen, England by Paul James, 2016. Guest contributions recorded in England, Spain, France, Italy and Australia. The rhythm section for 'Big Corn' was recorded at Platform Studios by Damon Sawyer. CD Mastering by Optimum Mastering, Bristol. Digital download mastering by Paul James.

The copyright in these sound recordings is the property of Paul James, 2016.

CD front cover illustration Robin and Bryony Spiers. Design: Joe James. Photography: Jeremy Prout.

Thanks to Clare Rawnsley Hawkins, Joe James, Sam James, Dan James, Victor Nicholls, Simon Houlihan.


all rights reserved



Paul James Inkpen, UK

Paul James is a saxophonist, bagpiper and singer from Newbury, England, who composes, arranges and performs music influenced by English and other European folk traditions.

Paul is a member of the band Blowzabella, and plays with his pan-European band Evening Star, the folk dance band The Playford Liberation Front and composes music for theatre, film and TV.
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