Music

Roe Deer

Independently released in September 2019, Phoebe’s debut EP comprises five heartfelt and stylistically varied tracks. Featuring the fiddle, viola and vocals, Roe Deer consists of two powerfully emotive arrangements of political songs, a haunting Scottish slow air and two of her own inspired compositions.

“This work is very much Phoebe Rees’s flag in the ground, where she stakes a claim to being one of the finest prospects in British folk music…”

Fatea Magazine, Oct 2019

Sleeve Notes

My Mother's Garden

[04:06]: up-beat, D major, in the style of English traditional folk song.

This song I wrote upon returning home to Oswestry after my very first visit to Cornwall, in May 2018. I had been down there with my family researching Dad’s farming ancestry in the Bodmin Moor and Boscastle areas. I heard some wonderful music during that time, most memorably at the Bodmin Folk Club’s 50th anniversary celebrations with performances from Geoff Lakeman, Robin Dransfield and Nancy Kerr and James Fagan (some of my absolute favourite folk artists). Feeling musically inspired, I wrote My Mother’s Garden as a celebration of nature and a gift to my beautifully creative, green fingered Mum – who likes to point out that I perhaps could have been getting on with some weeding at the same time as songwriting!

Words and music by Phoebe Rees:

As I arose one morning, it was all in the spring,
In fact it was the final day of that merry month of May
I came down to the kitchen, for to make some tea
And as I filled the kettle from the window I did see

My Mother’s Garden so fair
Not a single patch of ground to spare,
From the acer and the lilac tree
To the marjoram and rosemary,
A haven for our precious bees,
My Mother’s garden fair.

Though the cloud is yet to break this day, still the garden it will shine
Bright pink and white are the tall foxgloves, and the rose is blooming fine
Amidst a pale and vast blue sea of forget-me-nots to show
Light and cheery poppies, yellow and orange they do show

In my Mother’s garden so fair
Not a single patch of ground to spare,
From the acer and the lilac tree
To the marjoram and rosemary,
A haven for our precious bees,
My Mother’s garden fair.

 Around this time the peacock, and the cabbage white
Flit to and from and land upon with petal thin wings of flight
More rare is the red of the cinnabar whom like his cousins waits
For late in June will surely bloom, the fragrant buddleia

 In my Mother’s Garden so fair
Not a single patch of ground to spare,
From the acer and the lilac tree
To the marjoram and rosemary,
A haven for our precious bees,
My Mother’s garden fair. (Repeat chorus)

© 2018 Phoebe Rees (PRS)

Prison Trilogy

[05:02]: G major, mid-tempo, influenced by bluegrass style.

One of my favorite compositions by Joan Baez, this song was one of the very first arrangements which came to me as I was starting to learn how to sing and play the fiddle. Originally written in the early 1970s, just after her husband David Harris was imprisoned for resisting the Vietnam War draft, it is an account of some of the tragic stories he shared from his time inside. Prison Trilogy also serves as an emotive reminder of the injustice which humans, often wrongly convicted, can suffer at the hands of the criminal justice system.

Words and music by Joan Baez:

Billy Rose was a low rider, Billy Rose was a night fighter
Billy Rose knew trouble like the sound of his own name
Busted on a drunken charge
Driving someone else’s car
The local midnight sheriff’s claim to fame

In an Arizona jail there are some who tell the tale how
Billy fought the sergeant for some milk that he demanded
Knowing they’d remain the boss
Knowing he would pay the cost
They saw he was severely reprimanded

In the blackest cell on “A” Block
He hanged himself at dawn
With a note stuck to the bunk head
Don’t mess with me, just take me home

Come and lay, help us lay
Young Billy down

Luna was a Mexican the law called an alien
For coming across the border with a baby and a wife
Though the clothes upon his back were wet
Still he thought that he could get
Some money and things to start a life

It hadn’t been too very long when it seemed like everything went wrong
They didn’t even have the time to find themselves a home
This foreigner, a brown-skin male
Thrown into a Texas jail
It left the wife and baby quite alone

He eased the pain inside him
With a needle in his arm
But the dope just crucified him
He died to no one’s great alarm

Come and lay, help us lay
Young Luna down
And we’re gonna raze, raze the prisons
To the ground

Kilowatt was an aging con of 65 who stood a chance to stay alive
And leave the joint and walk the streets again
As the time he was to leave drew near
He suffered all the joy and fear
Of leaving 35 years in the pen

And on the day of his release he was approached by the police
Who took him to the warden walking slowly by his side
The warden said “You won’t remain here
But it seems a state retainer
Claims another 10 years of your life.”

He stepped out in the Texas sunlight
The cops all stood around
Old Kilowatt ran 50 yards
Then threw himself down on the ground

They might as well just have laid
The old man down
And we’re gonna raze, raze the prisons
To the ground
Help us raze, raze the prisons
To the ground

© 1971, 1972 Chandos Music (ASCAP)

Roe Deer

[05:58]: D major, slow free-tempo ballad 

This song was composed when I spent a few months of 2017 in Ullapool, in the North West Highlands of Scotland. It is the village where I grew up for a while and went to school, and most importantly where I began learning to play the fiddle. A very special place with many memories of lovely people and breathtaking scenery, it is also the perfect location to escape from a fast paced modern world and recover one’s sense of spirit. Roe Deer came to me after many a blustery and reflective walk up Ullapool Hill.

Words and music by Phoebe Rees:

Here I sit cold rock beneath my feet
Quartz and peat, oh the gorse it smells so sweet
The wind it does blow hard, it rattles through my skin and bones
It blows away my fear, it eases my pain, and longing for you my dear.

As I watch, beneath the setting sun
In towards the pier, the fishing boats return
Thinking of home, so many miles and miles away
When suddenly I hear, her mournful cry, and footsteps
Running by.

Oh the Roe Deer does run
Through the hills and rocky heather
She chases the sun
She knows there’s many storms to weather
High above the seas, where the waves they crash, below me
They beat against the shore
An the Roe Deer and I will keep running,
Forever more. 

I am so small, beneath these rising peaks
High above the gull, a watchful eye he keeps
Oh the mountains they do sore, they take with them my aching soul
It rises up and sings, and I feel for it no more, as I know
I am free. 

Oh the Roe Deer does run
Through the hills and rocky heather
She chases the sun
She knows there’s many storms to weather
High above the seas, where the waves they crash, below me
They beat against the shore
An the Roe Deer and I will keep running,
Forever more.

© 2017 Phoebe Rees (PRS)

Mississippi Summer

         

[03:59]: Bb minor, free – mid tempo political ballad

I had been aware of Si Kahn’s musical work from the singing of his song It’s What You Do With What You’ve Got, by a good friend of my Mum’s in the folk clubs around Welshpool and Shrewsbury, Bill Johnson. However it was on June Tabor’s Anthology album where I first came across her rendition of Mississippi Summer, in which she collaborates with Oysterband. The powerful lyrics and tone of the song grabbed me straight away, and ever since that first hearing I have been deeply inspired and motivated by Si’s work as a songwriter, activist and organizer. 

This song was written by Si some years after he worked in the Mississippi River Delta on the Arkansas side in 1965 with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the militant youth wing of the Southern Civil Rights Movement.

                                         

Words and music by Si Kahn:

My hands are as cracked as an August field
That’s burned in the sun for a hundred years
With furrows so deep you could hide yourself
But I ain’t chopping cotton no more this year
I’ll just sit on the porch with my eagle eye
Watch for a change of wind
The rows are as straight as a shotgun barrel
Long as a bullet can spin

You know how hot it gets
In Mississippi
You know how dry it gets
In the summer sun
The dust clouds swirl
All down the Delta
I just hope that I don’t die
‘Fore the harvest comes

Black clouds gathering on the edge of town
But no rain’s gonna fall on us
Hoes rise and and fall in a distant field
Earth takes a beating for all of us
I thought I heard the Angel of Death overhead
But it’s only the crop duster’s plane
Hoes rise and fall like the beating of wings
Lord send us freedom and rain

You know how hot it gets
In Mississippi
You know how dry it gets
In the summer sun
The dust clouds swirl
All down the Delta
I just hope that I don’t die
‘Fore the harvest comes

© Joe Hill Music LLC (ASCAP).  Administered by Reel Muzik Werks, El Segundo, California.

Da Slockit Light

[02:54]: D major, fiddle and viola duet, Scottish slow air 

This beautiful slow air is a tune I have been familiar with for a long time, originally from the playing of Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. Shetland fiddler Tom Anderson wrote it as a response to the gradual trend of migration away from the Shetland Islands.

“ Da Slockit Light’ was inspired by the depopulation of the area of Eshaness where he (Tom Anderson) was born. The song reflects his impression that each time the occupants of another croft moved out, or died, another light was ‘slockit’ (Shetland for extinguished).” – Scots Language Centre.

Music by Tom Anderson
Fiddle by Phoebe Rees
Viola by Clare ‘Fluff’ Smith

Contact

For bookings and all other information please contact:

info@phoeberees.co.uk

07903 692904