“In the dark times will there also be singing? asked German playwright and poet Bertolt Brecht.
The answer in the case of London-based singer songwriter Saskia Griffiths-Moore is an emphatic ‘yes’ - her heartfelt, ‘human touch’ songs seem almost made for these times.
She weaves together some of her best work from the past five years in the rich and retrospective tapestry Are You Listening? to be released on July 31.
Known for her open and searingly honest ‘no hiding place’ songs, her previous life as a Harley Street therapist seems to permeate her songwriting - well-crafted, compassionate tracks exuding calmness and not a little spirituality.
Her clear bright vocals and thoughtful lyrics decorate the 11 tracks which draw on new treatments of songs from her prolific back catalogue as well as two brand new songs and an impressive cover of Leonard Cohen’s anthemic Hallelujah.
Saskia’s career change happened after what she refers to as “a full on epiphany moment” on a retreat in 2013 when she realised singing was what she really wanted to pursue. After closing her London practice and handing over her clients she moved to the West Country and started out as a busker, travelling and eventually returning to the capital. Since then she has regularly toured the acoustic music scene across the UK and Europe.
Are You Listening? is the first in a two album record deal struck with America’s Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation, Inc. and arrives hot on the heels of her autumn 2019 album Baez, Dylan and Me, recorded at the famed Abbey Road Studios.
Susanne Marcus Collins says: “The timing of this album couldn’t be better for the times we find ourselves in - it is calming, uplifting, and inspirational. I am honoured to be a part of its creation.”
The collaboration is the result of two women sharing a passion in creating quality acoustic music mirroring the style and capturing the energy of the great legacy folk artists.
Along the way, critics have noted shades of artists from Norah Jones to Joan Baez, Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell in Saskia’s evocative songs.
The much-travelled Saskia says: “Around half the tracks on this album were actually written inside my camper van.” The songs, recorded at Fieldgate Studios, Cardiff, flit between folk, country, Americana, blues and pop in an album that is deceptively simple yet powerful in its directness with strong themes of love, friendship and empathy.
Described as a ‘completely old school acoustic album’ it sees Saskia joined by talented musicians Daniel Ian Roberts (guitar), Thomas Holder (double bass), Ali Petrie (piano) and Gabriella Swallow on cello.
Gentle guitar opens the album with the title track – a soothing and moving song about reaching crossroads and making choices - questioning if we always take the time to listen.
In Time, both poignant and hopeful, advocates letting go of the past and looking to the future while the ballad These Hours (co-written with Clive Gray) is a joyous paean to long-lasting friendship. Written for a special friend, the song enjoys an unusual guitar arrangement by Australian singer songwriter Cooper Lower.
The Presence is a poetic, country-style song with a ‘live for today’ message. Likening it to a stage performance, it also wonders about the future “Out the door, I peek into what is yet not known.”
The first of the new songs is the buoyant Best of You. Featuring soft classical guitar, mellow piano and double bass, it contains a heart-warming, feelgood message about kindness and being the best you can be.
By contrast the second new number Come Comfort Me is a graceful but raw and affecting song about searching for support during the darker times in life.
Bring it Down is a mesmeric, stream of consciousness song looking at life and love with a mix of memories and questions while modern folk ballad Write Me a Song is about a world-weary, forgotten man: “There’s nothing you can take from a man already gone”’ and After offsets the pain of separation with a hope to meet that person again and wishing them a good future.
Starting life as a poem the delicate and emotive Wash It Away is another country-sounding song likening our lives to the ebb and flow of water: “Like a flower that blooms once/In life’s enormous dance we’ll be washed away”.
The album ends with the time-honoured classic that is Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah- the haunting anthem given a careful and elegant treatment by Saskia. She says “This is the first song I ever sang in public and my love of it has never dwindled.”
Due to the current climate, tours scheduled for Spain, Germany, Holland, the USA and Canada have been postponed.
Says Saskia: “I want this album to be available, even if I can’t tour it the way I usually would. Music has perhaps never been as important as it is right now so we decided to go ahead with the release as planned and hope the songs may echo with people and in a small way offer some solace in these difficult times.”
A showcase for Saskia’s burgeoning songwriting skills, managing to be both simple and sophisticated, thought-provoking and restorative, Are You Listening? resonates on many levels and emerges as a balm for these troubled times.
The album will be available on July 31st, on CD, vinyl, and all streaming services.
The second CD under the two-album deal is due to be recorded over the summer, and will see Saskia returning to London’s Abbey Road Studios, with international release planned for the end of 2021.
To hear Saskia’s music go to: www.saskiagm.com
For interviews with Saskia, mp3s and hi res images please contact Jane Brace PR on (01243) 789554/ firstname.lastname@example.org