released 2009 Shrewsbury Folk Festival Records
This is an intriguing, impressive album that results from a brave and unlikely collaboration. Back in March, eight singer-songwriters from the UK and the US came together to compose new songs that had a "resonance and relevance" to Charles Darwin, who was born in Shrewsbury 200 years ago. They had just a week to write and rehearse for a concert in Shrewsbury, where this album was recorded. There are 17 new songs here, covering Darwin's life and the confusion and anger that his theory of evolution first caused - and continues to cause - for anyone from his loyal but worried wife to present-day creationists. The songs are composed and performed by different combinations of the ensemble, and the highlights include Chris Wood's evocative "Turtle Soup" ("The church may shout but Darwin roars"); the thoughtful "Mother of Mysteries" by American singer (and former scientist and lapsed Catholic) Mark Erelli and Karine Polwart; the jazzy "From Miss Emma Brawley" by another impressive American, Krista Detor; and Jez Lowe's gloriously witty creationist outlaw ballad "We'll Hunt Him Down." There's more from Emily Smith, Rachel McShane and Stu Hanna, who also mixed this classy-sounding set.