By Chelsea Haith
With the release of his full album Maiden Light this year, Julian Redpath is on tour treating select venues to his soft, heart-breakingly beautiful folk acoustic sound.
Redpath’s tour is supported by ConcertsSA through the Music Mobility Fund and he received an Ovation at the National Arts Festival in 2013. When he and I last spoke, he chuckled ruefully when he told me he was in the process of recording an album that “would just not die”. Maiden Light is the product of that five-year long project.
“It was a long, drawn-out tug of war, I guess,” he said. The recordings took place two or three years ago on a farm in Dullstroom with Nick Nesbitt. The finishing touches have entailed adding the heavy-hitting featured artists that Redpath said, “give the album the kind of depth sonically that I feel the lyrics already had”.
Like a good cup of tea, it has been left to steep and is all the better for it. “It was a lot of back and forth and working in all different spaces and now its finally done I’m just kind of relieved and really proud of the way it sounds,” he said.
Redpath will be in Grahamstown on 11 June, performing at the Lowlander as the opening act for Stelth Ulvang, pianist of The Lumineers. The first time I saw Redpath play, in 2013, he asked the tech crew to turn down the lights completely before he began. A naturally shy person, Redpath prefers to allow the music to speak for itself. He played the entire show in almost complete darkness, with only the twinkle lights on the columns throwing light and shadow across his fingers as they plucked stories out of his guitar. His is a sound that requires the audience to indulge in a little introspection.
He described the new album as “very earth tone-ish with hints of thunder storm dreams, a smattering of longing and an aftertaste of hope”. Much like his Shipwrecks EP of 2009, fans can expect to be haunted by the album and Redpath’s insightful lyrics.
Featured on the album are some greats of the various South African music scenes, including the likes of Guy Buttery, Vandercrimp of Prism Tats, Simo Majola and Clare Vanderleur, the last of whom is currently on tour with Redpath, lending her loaded cello tones to his emotionally charged performance.
The tour runs until 27 June and the show dates can be found here.