A Lone Voice — JR006

A Lone Voice JR006

Jill Rogoff, vocals

All the songs on this album are traditional and public domain, except for The sunset (Jill Rogoff, copyright 2005 ACUM) and To the island (Jill Rogoff, copyright 2009 ACUM). This recording & all vocal arrangements, copyright Jill Rogoff 2012 ACUM. All rights reserved.

Recorded at Muso Productions, Jerusalem, 2011.

Producers: Jill Rogoff & Mitch Clyman
Photographs: front cover – Lisa Shefer copyright 2008; back cover – Jill Rogoff copyright 2010

Thanks to Mitch Clyman, as ever, for his fine musical ear, his technical sure-handedness and his unfailing sense of humour, and for appreciating these songs at first hearing;

to Mike, for his loving support in all ways;

to our remarkable daughters Tal Oriana and Lisa, for all their ideas, technical skill and assistance, and support,

and to my sister Sue for her technical skill and assistance.

Click here to hear a sample of each track.

I have loved singing a cappella from an early age, and have dreamed for many years of producing an album entirely devoted to this type of singing. I include a few examples in my concerts whenever possible, but am always aware that, given the amount of complex sound assaulting our ears daily, a cappella singing may seem arcane or bare to some people.

To me, it is quintessential singing: there is absolutely nowhere for the singer to hide, either technically or emotionally. In many cases, I feel very strongly that accompanying certain songs with even the simplest of instrumental backing reduces their power. There are times when a singer must give a melody, and the lyrics threaded upon it, the physical and emotional space to breathe, to present itself to its full potential. I am elated to have recorded, at long last, some of my most favourite songs.

There are more a cappella songs to come, but I think that 22 is a big enough number of tracks for one album. The others, from different parts of my repertoire, will have to wait.

In this recording, I have deliberately used as much of my vocal range as is suitable for this style. Singing very high makes it hard for many people to hear lyrics, especially for the first time, so I have not used that part of my voice a great deal here. I hope, though, that the range of keys I sing in on this album will add to its variety and interest. One or two of these songs will be familiar to many; a few may be familiar to a few, and some will be utterly new to just about everyone. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I did. — Jerusalem, January 2012

To see reviews and comments on this album, click here.

The album is now available directly from Jill as a physical disc or from CD Baby as a download (both the complete album and individual tracks).

The price of each CD is NIS70/USD20, plus postage and packaging (p&p). The postal tariffs change with regular monotony: Jill will give you the most updated rate for registered air mail when you place your order.

The songs

1. Open the door softly This haunting elegy has been attributed variously to Archie Fisher, Brendan Behan (1923-1964) and Dion Boucicault (ca.1820-1890), but it is traditional. It seems to echo the 9th-century Old Irish poem Scél lem dúib. I love to begin a concert with it: it transports me (and, hopefully, the audience) to an entirely Other place. Learned from the singing of Archie Fisher.

2. Deus meus [My God] Music: an anonymous Franciscan friar; text (in Middle Irish): Maol-Iosa O’Brolchain, died 1086, Abbot of Iona and Senior Hiberniae (i.e. Head Abbot of all the Columban foundations in Ireland and Scotland). Composed in Co. Donegal. A macaronic song in Latin and Gaelic, with more verses than I sing here. Learned from the singing of Mary O’Hara.

3. Gin I were a baron’s heir With traditional lyrics in Lallands (Lowland Scots) and a melody by the English composer Joseph William Holder (1765-1832), this song first appeared in print in Scots Minstrelsies (1893). Learned from the singing of Dougie MacLean.

4. Westron wynde A brief, but evocative, lyric from 16th-century England. Learned from the singing of Maddy Prior.

5. The plains of Waterloo A traditional song from Ireland, presumably from the early 19th century. One of two ‘broken token’ songs on this album; this is the one with the happy ending. Learned from the singing of Debby McClatchy.

6. I’ll lay ye doon, love A traditional song from Scotland. I like the underlying irony in the lyrics. Learned from the singing of Jean Redpath.

7. Sliabh Gallion Braes A traditional song from Co. Derry and Tyrone, treating the subject of emigration from Ireland in the 19th century. Learned from the singing of Kevin Conneff.

8. Ei d’ir deryn du [Go thou, blackbird] A traditional macaronic love song from Wales, this time in Welsh and English. Learned from the singing of Meredydd Evans.

9. To the island copyright Jill Rogoff 2009. It is common wisdom that you should never try to go back to any place that you remember fondly: you can never re-create what once was. Nonetheless, it was very important to me to retrace my steps to one of the Western Isles of Scotland, to visit dear friends who had made me a part of their lives back in the summer of 1992. Heart-in-mouth and, this time, husband-at-my-side, I returned in 2009. Well, it turns out that sometimes you really can go back. For the MacDonalds of Ath Mhor and the Smiths of Clachan, with abiding affection.

10. The May morning dew A rather mysterious traditional Irish song. Learned from the singing of the Keane family.

11. My generous lover A traditional Irish song, learned from the singing of Dolores Keane. Of course, it is the trusting girl, rather than her arrogant lover, who is the generous one.

12. A stór mo chroí [O, my darling] Another traditional Irish emigrant song. Lyrics arr. Jill Rogoff, copyright 2011. Learned from the singing of Peta Webb.

13. The echo mocks the corncrake A traditional song from Scotland. The description of the countryside makes me long to visit that country again. Learned from the singing of Archie Fisher.

14. The sunset copyright Jill Rogoff 2005. Singer/songwriter Ray Scudero (1946-2005), a dear friend of mine for 17 years, died in 2005 after a protracted illness. Driving down to his home to comfort his wife, we witnessed a spectacular double sunset: just when we thought the light was dying out, it suddenly blazed up again, filling most of the sky with shades of orange, bronze and gold, and bathing us in unexpected warmth. It was deeply moving, comforting and uplifting: it seemed to tell us that Ray was travelling on in a blaze of glory. The line “Now the feathered clouds…” (which became the refrain) came welling up into my throat. I sang it at the funeral the following day. Everyone thought I had written it months before, but in fact I had finished writing it at two o’clock that same morning.

15. Once I loved A traditional Irish song: another trusting girl bites the dust. Learned from the singing of the late Sarah (ca. 1919-2010) and Rita Keane (1922-2009).

16. Fair beauty bright A traditional song that I learned in my childhood from the singing of Kathy [Larisch] and Carol [McComb] from California, USA. They in turn learned it from the singing of one Mrs Christopher Birkett in England.

17. There was a maid in her father’s garden Another traditional Irish ‘broken token’ song, but the ending of this one seems psychologically true. I first heard this sung by the late Sarah Makem (1900-1983). Lyrics arr. Jill Rogoff, copyright 2011.

18. Sweet King William’s Town The prettiest traditional emigrant’s song I have ever heard, this time from Ballydesmond in Co. Cork. I particularly like the image of the sun’s flinging “her farewell wings” over the town. Learned from the singing of Cara Dillon.

19. My bonnie blue-eyed Nancy The traditional lyrics hail from one Mary McQueen in Scotland, with no melody recorded (1826-28); the traditional source for the melody that most people seem to sing is Elizabeth Cronin (1879-1956) of Ballyvourney, Co. Cork. The lyrics that I sing are something of a hybrid of McQueen’s and Cronin’s texts: I try to keep to the original spirit of the song, which I find more interesting than the later, more conventional texts that most people seem to sing. I believe that I first heard Tríona ní Dhomhnaill sing it. Lyrics arr. Jill Rogoff, copyright 2011.

20. Lisa lân [Fair Lisa] A traditional love song from Wales. I always apologise to Tal that I’ve yet to find a song in a Celtic language with her (Hebrew) name in it, so I hereby dedicate this one to both our beautiful daughters. My thanks to Simon Fitton-Brown, who parsed and translated the song for me anew. Learned from the singing of Meredydd Evans.

21. Kind friends and companions I learned this hearty, traditional Irish drinking song from the singing of Kevin Conneff. It is a great one for ending a concert or a hootenanny.

22. The parting glass A traditional Irish ending for any gathering or concert. Learned from the singing of the late Liam Clancy (1935-2009).

The lyrics of all the songs are available from Jill in PDF format.

1 Open the door softly 2:17
2 Deus meus 2:25
3 Gin I were a baron’s heir 2:18
4 Westron wynde 0:37
5 The plains of Waterloo 5:44
6 I’ll lay ye doon, love 3:17
7 Sliabh Gallion Braes 2:44
8 Ei d’ir deryn du 1:56
9 To the island 2:55
10 The May morning dew 2:52
11 My generous lover 3:33
12 A stór mo chroí 3:04
13 The echo mocks the corncrake 2:38
14 The sunset 2:28
15 Once I loved 3:32
16 Fair beauty bright 2:13
17 There was a maid in her father’s garden 4:48
18 Sweet King William’s Town 3:35
19 My bonnie blue-eyed Nancy 3:43
20 Lisa lân 1:35
21 Kind friends and companions 2:54
22 The parting glass 2:55

Total playing time: 64:05