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Devin Hoff To Release “Voices From The Empty Moor” (Songs of Anne Briggs) out 1st October 2021 on Kill Rock Stars & Shares New Single “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme” featuring Julia Holter

August 12, 2021

Devin Hoff to release Voices From The Empty Moor
(Songs of Anne Briggs)
out 1st October 2021 on Kill Rock Stars

Interpreting the music of Anne Briggs, with:
Sharon Van Etten
Julia Holter (courtesy of Domino Records)
Howard Wiley Shannon Lay (courtesy of SubPop)
Alejandro Farha
Emmett Kelly
Jim White
(in order of appearance)

Bassist, composer and arranger, Devin Hoff has been studying the music of Anne Briggs for over a decade, transcribing, practicing, arranging and performing songs from her recorded output. Briggs was a leading light of the 1960’s English folk scene, a gifted song-writer and improvisor, as well as an amateur musicologist who revived traditional English, Scottish, and Irish Traveler songs with an unpretentious approach that perhaps presaged the rebellion of punk as much as it honoured tradition. 

This record is an appreciation of Briggs’ extraordinarily transcendent music, more than a tribute to a persona. With the announcement of this record comes the first released track, “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”, featuring Julia Holter.

Devin states: “I learned Let No Man Steal Your Thyme from a recording of Anne Briggs singing a capella, which is how she often performed and recorded in the 1960ʼs. I wanted to underscore what i hear as the proto-feminist warning in the centuries-old lyrics against the archetypal socialized male who “takes what he can find.” The arrangement was written to feature my good friend and amazing musician Julia Holter singing against a doomy quartet of Double Basses. The melody of this song is timeless, and unfortunately the message is as well.”

The haunting strings resonate in the almost chilling aura and initiate the harrowing journey of this ensemble, those elongated notes begin to transform and later sculpt the dramatic atmosphere. The composer challenges the composition with this complex emotive attachment. The audience embraces this wide range of emotions resonating from the notes, when Holter’s vocal melodies flow and pierce through the dark soundscape, this human touch transcends and alters that dark dominating assertion the aura transmits. You’ll be fixated and hooked on this journey throughout.

Devin Hoff has been active in international creative music circles for decades, performing and recording Solo Bass music as well with a wide range of artists. In addition to the talent assembled on this album, Hoff has collaborated with legendary iconoclasts such as Yoko Ono and Amiri Baraka, virtuoso instrumentalists Nels Cline, Vijay Iyer, Ben Goldberg and Ava Mendoza, underground heroes Cibo Matto, Jewlia Eisenberg, and Carla Bozulich, and punk rock legends, Mike Watt, Kira Roessler, and Bill Stevenson among many others. 

The arrangements on Voices From The Empty Moor include collaborations with musician friends that share a fascination with mining specific folk forms for universal and timeless truths, set against multi-tracked bass choirs, solo upright bass retellings of Briggs’ a capella songs that transcend the limitations of instrument and genre.

Hoff has recorded and performed previously with most of the musicians on this record: he befriended Julia Holter, Shannon Lay, and Sharon Van Etten through playing bass for their own projects, oud player Alejandro Farha and saxophonist Howard Wiley are old friends and long term cohorts. Emmett Kelly and Jim White are more recent collaborators.

Hoff says, “Voices From the Empty Moor reflects my continued engagement with the musical world opened up to me by the early recordings of Anne Briggs. It is not a folk music record, and makes no claims to any historical or cultural traditions other than those brought by the individual musicians involved. And it is not a tribute to a persona as much as an appreciation of music through music. 

The process of making this record was about striving to maintain a sense of self and connection amidst loss and tragedy, such as I and too many others have experienced recently. Elegies performed on the double bass bookend seven necessarily remote collaborations with musicians that I admire and count as friends. Roughly half of the songs are sung by singers, the others are ‘sung’ on the double bass, oud, saxophone, and drum set.”

Voices From the Empty Moor seeks to honour the mystery and beauty of Anne Briggs’ music while maintaining its own unique perspective, foregrounding powerful emotion and magical transformation.

Tracklisting for Voices From The Empty Moor:
1. She Moved Through the Fair
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; basses-D. Hoff)
2. Go Your Way
(words and music-Anne Briggs; vocals-Sharon van Etten; basses-D. Hoff)
3. Let No Man Steal Your Thyme
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; vocals-Julia Holter; basses-D. Hoff)
4. Maa Bonny Lad
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; saxophone-Howard Wiley; basses-D. Hoff)
5. Living By the Water
(words and music-Anne Briggs; vocals-Shannon Lay; basses-D. Hoff)
6. The Snow It Melts the Soonest/My Bonny Boy
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; oud-Alejandro Farha; bass-D. Hoff)
7. Black Waterside 
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; vocals-Emmett Kelly; basses-D. Hoff)
8. Willie O’ Winsbury
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; drums-Jim White; guitar and basses-D. Hoff)
9. The Lowlands
(trad. arranged by D. Hoff; bass-D. Hoff)

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