Witness (Show of Hands album)

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Witness
SOHWitness.jpg
Studio album by Show of Hands
Released 15 May 2006
Recorded 2005-2006
Genre Folk, world
Label Hands on Music HMCD23
Producer Simon Emmerson and Simon ‘Mass’ Massey
Show of Hands chronology
As You Were
(2005)
Witness
(2006)
Arrogance Ignorance and Greed
(2009)

Witness is the ninth studio album by Show of Hands. The album was recorded in January 2006 at Presshouse Studio, Colyton, Devon, and was produced by Simon Emmerson and Simon ‘Mass’ Massey from the Afro Celts, who helped to incorporate elements of traditional African, ambient and electronic dance music with the duo's characteristic folk style. It was released in May 2006 on the Hands on Music label (HMCD23). Mojo Magazine ranked Witness at number 10 on their best folk albums of 2006 list.[1]

"Witness" and "Roots" were singles. Parts of the "Roots" music video were filmed at the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival.

Music[edit]

Steve Knightley noted "every original song on the CD is a first person narrative or testimonial. incidents and events are witnessed and recorded and every narrator is a different character. It's really a series of scenes from a cinematic style journey of the West Country."[2] The band's website refers to the album as Show of Hands "the most innovative" studio album the band had recored to date, noting the album is Show of Hands "as you've never heard them before".[3]

"If I Needed Someone"[edit]

"If I Needed Someone" was originally recorded in 2005 for the BBC Radio 2 show Rubber Folk, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' Rubber Soul album.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Mojo 4/5 stars[citation needed]
NetRhythms favourable[4]

The album was released to a favourable reception from critics, praising the crossover sound of the album. Gordon Potter of Living Tradition described the album as "another tour de force by Show of Hands, the irrepressible Steve Knightley and Phil Beer, here supported by an impressive selection of backing singers and musicians, who combine to produce an album which is darkly satisfying", and also noted "the whole production is a thoughtful and thought-provoking success," before concluding the album is a "first-class release".[5]

NetRhythms said the album is "recognisably classic (and classy) Show Of Hands and at the same time something very fresh and boldly different", noting the album "proves a particularly impressive entry in the Show Of Hands canon" and that the production "sets its own standards and provides an inventive and creative new setting for the Show Of Hands experience we know and love."[6]

Iain Hazlewood of Spiral Earth said "everything has come together perfectly on this recording," noting the production resulted in a "confident enveloping sound", that "the alchemy between [the duo] is in their arrangements, lifting their music away from divides of genre", and that the "sense of place was as strong as ever".[7]

Mojo Magazine gave the album four out of five stars, and later ranked Witness at number 10 on their best folk albums of 2006 list.[8] Following the release of the album, a 2008 live album titled Live at Exeter Phoenix was released. It was released on 27 December 2008 on the Londogs website.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Steve Knightley, except where noted.

  1. "Witness" – 3:31
  2. "Roots" – 4:48
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, acoustic guitar, mandocello, cuatro
    • Phil Beer: vocals, fiddle, viola, acoustic slide guitar
    • Fisherman's Friends: 'Haul away' choir
    • Mass: bass, percussion and drum programming
  3. "The Dive" – 4:41
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, high strung and low tuned mandocellos
    • Phil Beer: acoustic guitar, fiddle
    • Matt Clifford: piano
    • Miranda Sykes: double bass
    • Paul Wilson: melodeon
    • Mass: Ambience and percussion programming
    • Lyme Bay: The Sea
  4. "The Falmouth Packet" (Phil Beer) / "Haul Away Joe" (Trad arr. Knightley/Beer) – 5:36
    • Phil Beer: lead vocals, fiddle, mandolin
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, cuatro
    • Seth Lakeman: tenor guitar
    • Miranda Sykes: double bass
    • Paul Wilson: melodeon
    • Jackie Oates: fiddle
    • Lizzie Westcott: fiddle
    • Mass: percussion and drum programming
  5. "Undertow" – 5:18
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, high and low tuned mandocellos, acoustic guitar
    • Phil Beer: EBow, acoustic guitar
    • Miranda Sykes: double bass
    • Matt Clifford: piano
    • Mass: shaker
  6. "If I Needed Someone" (George Harrison) – 3:33
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, mandocello, acoustic guitar
    • Phil Beer: vocals, fiddle, melodeon
    • Miranda Sykes: vocals, double bass, cello
    • Johnny Kalsi: tablas, mazhar, shakers
    • Mass: Percussion and drum programming
  7. "Innocents’ Song" (poem by Charles Causley, music by Johnny Coppin) / "Gwithian" (Beer) – 4:38
    • Phil Beer: lead vocals, fiddle
    • Steve Knightley: vocals
    • Miranda Sykes: vocals, double bass
  8. "Union Street (Last Post)" (Knightley/Matt Clifford) – 4:14
    • Steve Knightley: vocals
    • Miranda Sykes: vocals
    • Matt Clifford: piano
    • Paul Downes: guitar
  9. "The Bet" – 4:20
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, acoustic guitar, acoustic bass guitar
    • Phil Beer: cuatro, slide guitar
    • Matt Clifford: keyboards
    • Simon Emmerson: The A35!
  10. "Ink Devil" – 5:01
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, acoustic guitar, cuatro
    • Phil Beer: fiddle, mandolin
    • Miranda Sykes: double bass
    • Paul Wilson: melodeon
    • Mass: percussion and drum programming
  11. "Scratch" – 3:39
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, acoustic guitar, cuatro
    • Phil Beer: fiddle, mandolin, Dobro
    • Miranda Sykes: double bass
    • Matt Clifford: keyboards
    • Mass: Percussion and drum programming
  12. "All I'd Ever Lost" – 5:37
    • Steve Knightley: vocals, low tuned mandocellos
    • Miranda Sykes: double bass, cello
    • Matt Clifford: piano
    • Mass: atmospherics, keyboards and drum programming

References[edit]