Bonny Light Horseman is Anaïs Mitchell, Eric D. Johnson and Josh Kaufman’s take on traditional British folk songs – mixing the ancient and mystical with the contemporary and astral.
Whilst not technically a Christmas song, new single ‘Jane Jane’ certainly has a festive feel and the group have also announced dates for the new year.
Take a listen to the new track, below…
‘Jane Jane’ is taken from their self-titled debut album, due out January 24th, 2020 via 37d03d Records. Produced by Kaufman, Bonny Light Horseman finds the group reimagining traditional songs and co-writing new ones based loosely on specific sources. “I grew up with ‘Children Go Where I Send Thee,’ we used to sing it at Christmastime,” explains Mitchell. “I’d never heard ‘Jane Jane’ ‘til Eric shared the Tia Blake version of it with us during (I think) our first band hang in Dumbo,” explains Mitchell. “I know ‘Jane Jane’ is also sometimes performed as a standalone song and I don’t know who the first person was to mash up the two tunes, but definitely Tia Blake and Peter, Paul & Mary performed it that way. That major/minor shift just never gets old to me, it gives me chills and makes me feel like laughing at the same time.”
The timeless qualities of traditional tunes can carry us across oceans and eons, linking us not only to the past but to each other as well. It was under the banner of those eternal connections that the trio of Bonny Light Horseman came together. From Wisconsin festival fields and a German art hub to a snowy upstate studio and everywhere in between, the astral folk outfit is mixing the ancient, mystical medium of transatlantic traditional folk music with a contemporary, collective brush. The resulting album, Bonny Light Horseman, is an elusive kind of sonic event: a bottled blend of lightning and synergy that will excite fans of multiple genres, eras, and ages.
The trio had just begun experimenting together when an invitation to perform at the 2018 Eaux Claires festival came from its co-founders, Justin Vernon and Aaron Dessner. Each musician brought their own musical ideas to the rehearsals and the direction toward traditional songs from the British Isles emerged quickly. “I think it’s fair to say we are all inspired by traditional music in different ways,” Mitchell says. “We wanted to rework old songs but not in a ‘research project’ way. The emotions, the feeling of momentousness, the openness—even the chords being in open tuning—we wanted everything to be wide open. It was very healing to delve into these old stories and images that have existed for so long that you can rest in them.”
Following the success of the Wisconsin show, they were invited by Vernon and Dessner’s 37d03d (fka PEOPLE) collective to participate in a week-long artist residency in Berlin. Working at a venue called The Funkhaus, the trio recorded what would become the foundation of the full-length album, featuring fellow artists-in-residence Michael Lewis (bass, saxophone) and JT Bates (drums, percussion) as well as Vernon, Dessner, Kate Stables (of This Is The Kit), Lisa Hannigan, The Staves, Christian Lee Hutson, and more. Leaving Germany with roughly 60-percent of a record, the band reconvened at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, NY, in January 2019 to finish, bringing Lewis and Bates as well as engineer Bella Blasko and mixer D. James Goodwin along with them.
Bonny Light Horseman UK tour dates as follows…
29/01 – Glasgow, UK – Celtic Connections (at Old Fruitmarket)
30/01 – Glasgow, UK – Celtic Connections (at Saint Luke’s)
31/01 – London UK – Roundhouse
01/02 – London, UK – The Lexington