The Devon-based duo previously known as Julu & Heg have reinvented themselves as Suthering and recently released their debut album. Partners in life as well as in music, the duo are Julu Irvine (flute, guitar, whistles and vocals) and Heg Brignall (piano vocals) and their album, If We Turn Away, came out at the end of February.
Suthering is an old regional dialect term meaning the sound of the wind through the trees or wind under a bird’s wing, the band name inspired by the Robert Macfarlane book Landmarks. That celebration of the natural world and closeness to nature is a running theme through the duo’s music.
Another key theme is feminism. The duo are on a mission to champion female characters in folk song, both through their interpretations of traditional material and through their own compositions.
The results are captivating. Crisp harmony vocals, deft musicianship and a natural gift for storytelling all serve to make If We Turn Away a very pleasing album.
Original material on the album explore themes from climate change to dysfunctional relationships to reflections on the pandemic, while the two traditional songs are ‘Sovay’ telling the tale of a triumphant female highwayman and ‘Blood and Gold’, a song popularised by the Silly Sisters.
The album is co-produced by the duo and Lukas Drinkwater with the latter also contributing bass and percussion. A further guest musician, Aaron Catlow, adds violin.
A beautifully-produced album with equally beautiful cover art, If We Turn Away is a fine debut.
Released: 25th February 2022