Musical Motivation: Patricia Lalor

Patricia Lalor has shared her new single, ‘Fall Back Asleep’, the third in a series of four tracks to be released over the coming weeks via Friends Don’t Lie Ltd. Beautifully sparse, the track blends rich vocals and delicate harmonies against a solo guitar line, emphasizing its subtle intimacy, before ending in an intoxicating crescendo of ambient synths propelling it into gentle euphoria. We caught up with her to find out what music motivates her... Smile Space Song by Beach House Just because…

Musical Motivation: Seil Lien

"Music is generally tied to a memory for me. I don't listen to a lot of music, it can interfere with the creative process but that doesn't mean I don't love listening to music, I just don't do it regularly," Marie-Claire White of Seil Lien informs us. Due release their debut album ‘Shatter’ on April 17th 2020, Seil Lien is one of the most unique artists to come out of Scotland, and the brain child of an uncompromising underground experimentalist.…

Standing in Another Person's Shoes: Noughts & Crosses and To Kill a Mockingbird

Noughts & Crosses, published in 2001, is the first of a series of novels by Malorie Blackman – the most recent, Crossfire, was published in August, 2019. Noughts + Crosses (currently a television drama) is a dystopian fiction based in a twenty-first century parallel universe. Their world, technologically at least, is similar to the one we recognise but with one key difference: equality between the races is explicitly lacking. The law and the constitution provide no protection for the colourless…

Musical Motivation: Shaima

Shaima is a young, dynamic singer with a huge creative edge. She started in the music industry from the age of 14 conquering both stereotyping and also the challenges of musically uniting her mixed cultural identity. Her soul belongs to pop, hip-hop and R&B without forgetting her origins: uniquely mixing in the beats of traditional instruments like sitar, Arabic flute and tabla. Her new single Green Eyes exemplifies this magical fusion and is released globally on 6th March 2020 to…

Poem Of The Week: 'Smuts, Pobs And Goody' By The Irish Health & Homes Creative Writers

Smuts, Pobs and Goody This blank sheet reminds me of the first one l hung out to dry from our first Leeds house when our neighbour warned me about smuts. I smiled politely, not knowing what smuts were, carried on pegging up the sheets, went inside to make a cup of tea, looked back and saw my white sheets were all peppered with black spots. Mucky Leeds they called it, I learned, with good reason. I start remembering and this white sheet soon…

Empress Of - I'm Your Empress Of

Lorely Rodriguez is a first generation Honduran-American. A graduate of Berklee College of Music, she demonstrated on her first studio album that she was a unique musical force, while some may argue 2018's Us was a shot at mainstream success. Marrying dream pop with R&B, she has spent the last two years busily building a wider fanbase on the live circuit, while focusing her energies into the writing and recording of her third studio album. Titled I'm Your Empress Of, her…

Musical Motivation: Marcus Gray

Marcus Gray is a British singer songwriter who doesn’t like to define himself as solely one genre or another. Making music he likes and what excites people is purely what drives his prodigious talent. He was born in SW London, grew up in Surrey and moved to the artistic hub of Brighton on the South Coast in 2018 where he thrives to this day on the musical and creative vibes generated in the city. On February 28th he released his…

Singles Of The Week: 3 April 2020

This week has seen numerous artists announce delayed releases, while others have come out fighting against Coronavirus with new material to keep us uplifted. Here is a run down of some of this week's key releases. SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Rina Sawayama - Chosen Family Rating: 5/5 The concept of a modern family is not a new one, however, it is one that is not celebrated often enough in the current day. While Chosen Family is a tribute to her Chosen Family,…

Explore York Libraries from Home

Explore provides the public library and archives service for the city of York. Last year Explore York Libraries and Archives had over 1 million visitors, held 1466 events, told 1734 stories to children, and loaned more than 2000 books every day. Holding over 850 years of civic records, the City Archives are the most complete outside London. Explore enables people to live fuller, more connected and engaged lives, by giving everyone access to knowledge and ideas in safe, friendly spaces…

Review: Moonlight Over Mayfair By Anton du Beke

My family all know I am a Strictly fan! Previous Christmases have yielded tickets to the Strictly Tour and to Anton and Erin’s own show, a set of Ballroom DVD’s and a voucher for a five-week beginners’ course to learn Ballroom and Latin. My husband, I would like to say, is thrilled that those five weeks have so far extended to six years, although the current crisis has caused us to hang up our dancing shoes, temporarily. This year, Santa saw…

Singles Of The Week: 27 March 2020

As more and more communities around the world enter lockdown, the 'insta-concert' has been one of the forms of entertainment bringing joy into homes. While they may not be able to compete with the always appealing Joe Wicks doing his P.E. work outs, we believe that music is a healer. With many artists pushing ahead with releases, we decided to take a look at a few of the singles you can stream this week... SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Sara Correia -

Children Challenged to Inspire Cressida Cowell in Settle Stories Competition

Arts charity Settle Stories have launched their free Children’s Story Competition ahead of Yorkshire Festival of Story 2020. The competition will be judged by Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, the author-illustrator ofHow to Train Your Dragon and The Wizards of Once series. Those aged 7 - 11 years old are invited to make the UK lockdown creative and inspire Cowell with 750 words set in Yorkshire. To mark their 10th year, Settle Stories are rebranding the Settle Stories Festival to…

Review: The Last Cuckoo by Maria Frankland

Here is a rare treat: a book of extraordinary depth that leaves no stone unturned in its selection of the kinds of trope which drive effective narratives – The Last Cuckoo is thorough in both conception and execution. This last skill – and it is crafted – is manifested in the story in thematic, stylistic and tonal devices which look incredibly well-honed. I was particularly struck by the ‘backward glance’ approach which is the story’s motor: the art of insinuating…

Oklahoma! - Rodgers And Hammerstein

It’s 1947 and you are sitting in the Drury Lane Theatre when the lights go down. You have just lived through the most murderous war in history and the truth about the death camps is beginning to emerge. In front of the curtain, a follow-spot lights up an elderly lady sitting at a spinning wheel. From somewhere offstage, a voice begins to sing, “There’s a bright golden haze on the meadow,” and it seems that a refreshing breeze is blowing through…

Real Heroes: The Girl Who Fell From The Sky By Simon Mawer

I have to admit, the Coronavirus is worrying, not only because of the financial and economic implications both for individuals and for the country but also because of the stark reality that some people we know and love might not survive. There are things we can all do. Social distancing is ok, self-isolating is a bit more difficult but we can do it – it seems, we must. Stories of selfish people attacking supermarket shelves like locusts are shameful, so…

Becca Stevens - Wonderbloom

Becca Stevens has always been known to fuse her love of genres within her releases. A little bit of jazz and a little bit of folk have been her definitive sounds, however, on her fifth studio album, Wonderbloom, all that shifts into a more pop-centric field. While there are still echoes of Norah Jones in elements of the record, there are also clear influences from Janet Jackson, Björk, Christine & The Queens and Marina and the Diamonds to be thrown…

Poem Of The Week: 'Spelling Rickets' By William Bedford

Spelling Rickets Stumbling from the park like a ghost on sticks the cripple boy chased after the crowds, dodging the trams like a coin in pitch-and-toss, flying unsteady down the cobbled streets... but wanting to play, whatever the cost. ‘Wait for me’ were blighted words for months after he ran too slow for the Wicker tram, blue sparks like lonely angels far from home. They buried him with his two wooden sticks and a daisy chain made from old newspaper. Ink ran on the white flowers. Rain did the rest, mulching the…

Musical Motivation: IVI

25-year-old, IVI was born in Austria but grew up in London, soaking in all the diverse artistic influences in the city and distilling them into her own heady musical brew. The result is a seductive pop alchemy and the scratchy intensity of her unique vocal timbre, evoking the style of twentieth-century femme fatale icon Marlene Dietrich. This is illuminated perfectly in IVI's debut single, Andromeda – out now. We caught up with IVI to find out what songs make her... Contemplate Temple

Kelsea Ballerini - Kelsea

Kelsea Ballerini is one of Country music's runaway successes. In a period where it is notoriously difficult for female artists to achieve widespread acclaim within the genre, Ballerini has defied the odds to become not only a star within her genre, but one who has an international fanbase. As she releases her third studio album, Kelsea, she is perfectly placed to further build her place in the hearts of both Country and Pop fans. In the five years since she released…

Singles Of The Week: 20 March 2020

Earlier this week all theatre and live performances were advised against as the battle against Coronavirus grows. With artists turning to social media to deliver a string of stunning, intimate performances for their audiences, the flow of new music has thankfully not been ceased. Here is our rundown of this week's new singles... SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Melanie C - Who I Am Rating: 5/5 Melanie C has proved herself to be the Spice Girls equivalent of Madonna. With each solo release…

Louise Proved She Could Both Raise The Heat And Really Make Hearts Flutter

28 years ago music manager Denis Ingoldsby decided he would try to create a British group to emulate the success of the international icons En Vogue. Little did he realise that he was not only about to piece together one of the biggest girl bands in British history - Eternal - but he would also discover one of the UK's biggest selling female solo artists - Louise. After leaving the girl band in 1995, she released three stunning studio albums…

Icelandic Sublime: RY X And Ólafur Arnalds Collaboration

The rise and rise of Icelandic music, or of music by Icelandic composers, has been little short of phenomenal over the three decades of its popular tenure. That it thrives on the margins may be a consequence of the resolutely left-field nature of the musical dynamic: from the raucous brittleness and determinedly eclectic avant-garde of Björk, to the swathing choral elegies of Sigur Rós, the music lends itself to no single genre. Derivative in the very best sense, layers of sound…

Review: EBORACVM: THE VILLAGE By Graham Clews

This book is a lengthy read, lots of pages of small print, in my edition at least, but one in which it is well worth investing your time and energy - and if you like it, it’s the first part of a trilogy which relates the interaction of two families, one Roman and one Brigantian, as they fight for land, justice and love. Yes, it’s historical action, spanning a little more than fifty years of Roman Britain, with a sprinkle…

Ghost Flowers: The Poetry Of Emma Simon, Nick On & Hilary Menos

Even in a series of collections as disparate, and individually rewarding, as the three winners of the Poetry Business competition for 2019, there is a tendency to try to locate connections, as though it were incumbent upon the reviewer to think thematic or lyrical simpatico into being. It’s where a natural synoptic impulse, or an urge for clarity through the illusion of verisimilitude, leads us. And really, the three pamphlets under poor secondary scrutiny here – secondary, because they were selected…

Singles Of The Week: 13 March 2020

In a week where bands are having to cancel international appearances, it has to be revealed that Coronavirus can not stop the earworm... As a result, here is our rundown of this week's new singles... SINGLE OF THE WEEK: NIMMO - Do I Have To Learn It? Rating: 5/5 Electro duo NIMMO deserve to be rewarded with epic arena style success. They boast distinctive vocals, epic beats and a stunning retro feel. Do I Have To Learn It? is no exception to…

Review: A Body In The Bookshop By Helen Cox

Having recently read and reviewed Cox’s first Kitt Hartley mystery, Murder by the Minster, it felt quite comfortable to revisit the same characters in this, her second. There is some advantage to reading them in order since there are plenty of references in this novel to events which occurred, and relationships which were initiated, in the first. Once again, there are repeated literary references littered throughout the story. I had thought this novel alluded to Agatha Christie’s The Body in the

Poem Of The Week: 'Composed Upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802' By William Wordsworth

Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802 Earth has not anything to show more fair: Dull would he be of soul who could pass by A sight so touching in its majesty; This City now doth, like a garment, wear The beauty of the morning; silent, bare, Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie Open unto the fields, and to the sky; All bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Never did sun more beautifully steep In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill; Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm…

Into The Mind Of A Rock 'N Roll Alien: Bowie At Victoria Theatre, Halifax

Take an incredible two hour trip through the finest work of David Bowie with the Bowie Collective at the Victoria Theatre Halifax on Tuesday 31 March at 7:30pm. This group of rock musicians, artists and performers recreate Bowie’s most iconic recordings in exquisite detail against a spellbinding backdrop of lights and visual magic. With glowing endorsements from the likes of Rick Wakeman and Mike Garson, this exciting show is a must for Bowie fans and the Bowie-Curious! From the dark depths…

The Book Of Mormon Is Laugh Out Loud Musical Heaven

The Book of Mormon debuted back in 2011 and immediately became a buzz musical. The hype surrounding the comedic prowess of the Trey Parker, Robert Lopez and Matt Stone satirical exploration of the beliefs and missionary message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints built quickly and it is today regarded as one of the finest contemporary comedy musicals. With the West End production still proving as popular today as when it opened in 2013, the UK and…

Singles Of The Week: 6 March 2020

With Lady Gaga announcing an all-too-brief summer world tour and a debate as to whether Coronavirus may halt Eurovision, this week in music has been an interesting one. Thankfully we have reached Friday and so we are ready for our new single rundown... SINGLE OF THE WEEK: Mathea - Wollt dir nur sagen Rating: 5/5 Mathea is fast becoming one of the finest Austrian music artists of all time. With the phenomenal 2x, Alles Gute and Chaos having already proved her pop…