The release date for Joan Baez’s Whistle Down the Wind is in March, but the promotional campaign has begun! (You can hear the title track on YouTube.) This week includes an interview by Rolling Stone that includes some good Zoe shouting out! Whistle Down the Wind is also on Rolling Stone’s 54 most anticipated albums of 2018.
Whistle Down the Wind News
• The Rolling Stone Interview (worth reading the whole thing!):
One of the most arresting moments on the new album is “The President Sang Amazing Grace” by Zoe Mulford. Is it true that you discovered that song by hearing it on the radio?
I heard it on KPFA [in Berkeley]. I was just driving and I heard that song and I just pulled over. It’s so expressive of my thoughts and feelings, which are pretty fucking gloomy, but she did it in such a beautiful way that’s as dark as it is beautiful. In the concerts recently it’s been for me probably the highlight. But I think with this batch of new songs there will probably be more than one highlight.
• The first review I’ve found:
All the song are by other writers including Tom Waits and Josh Ritter, although the stand out in the album is ‘The President Sang Amazing Grace’, by relative unknown Zoe Mulford. The haunting vocals, piano, gentle drum rolls and lyrics – a poignant tale of current ills in the US – all work so well.
• A French article about the album (not a review):
Elle a aussi choisi un titre d’une musicienne américaine peu connue, Zoe Mulford, revenant sur le massacre de paroissiens noirs sous les balles d’un partisan de la suprématie des Blancs à Charleston, en Caroline du Sud, en 2015 et sur le discours émouvant de Barack Obama qui avait chanté en hommage aux victimes: “The President Sang Amazing Grace”. Profondément influencée par Joan Baez, Zoe Mulford s’est dite “honorée” par ce choix. [Ed: I’m just happy that I could read the French!]
• Business World Article (this one is funny as it grabbed a lot of stuff from Zoe’s news item but also looks to be the source of or a translation of the French above):
In one of the lesser-known covers, Baez performs Zoe Mulford’s “The President Sang Amazing Grace,” a piano ballad about the 2015 massacre by a white supremacist of African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina, and the subsequent eulogy at which then president Barack Obama sang that well-known Christian hymn…
Mulford, a little-known folk singer from Philadelphia heavily influenced by Baez, said she was “amazed and honored” and that Baez has already received standing ovations when performing “The President Sang Amazing Grace” in concert.
“If only one of my songs ever reaches a larger audience, I’m glad it’s this one,” Mulford wrote on her Web site after Baez selected the song.
Not bad for early days!
Small Brown Birds Reviews
Small Brown Birds was released about a year ago, but mostly in the US. In particular, we only did a US radio mailing. Of course, we’ve only ever done US mailings before. This year, however, due to a wonderful response to her Kickstarter campaign, Zoe’s upped her game with a UK mailing…a year later. This is generating UK reviews now, and I’m trying to track them:
If you’re in the market for a colourful folky set of songs with more than a little own character and with all contributors having musical empathy, this is certainly a record for you and an artist you should know about.
A wonderful start to the year, one that puts a smile on the face as the sweetness and thought of purity comes over the music in waves; the unproblematic and smoothness of the voice sparks and manifests without a hitch in the collaboration with Tom Kitching, Sam McEvoy and Ken Pendergrast and the contribution by Bob Beach, Pat Wictor, Cheryl Prashker, Matthew Landis, Michael G. Ronstadt, Mark Allen and Ross Bellenoit and a tremendous choir infiltrating the final track of the album, Won’t You Come In, Small Brown Birds is not some small warble caught on the wind, it is the orchestra in flight, the folk ensemble that catches the ear and it is one to celebrate.
• Top 25 (but not top 10) http://folkrootsradio.com/folk-roots-radio-episode-357-best-of-2017-the-next-15/
• Don’t forget the 2017 Folk DJ roundup.