It all began with Jane…
Okay, I should probably start off by addressing the fact that there are two Femme Picks this month instead of one. I swear, there is a reason but to tell you about how that came to be, we have to talk about the soundtrack to the 2020 film remake of the classic tale by the 19th century British novelist, Jane Austen: Emma.
I should also mention that I am extremely obsessed with anything and everything Jane Austen, and related to 19th century England. It is something I became infatuated with at a young age with the help of my maternal grandmother, Dorothy, who taught me to read and essentially helped mold my tastes, and interests for years to come until her death in 2010. I realize it may be a weird time period for me, the ultra feminist, to be in love with, but I am also a romantic.
If you tell anyone, I’ll be very cross and never speak to you again.
I jest, but in all seriousness this was around the time when women started being noticed, if only by subterfuge and limited exposure, for writing, music, painting, and other forms of artistry in a sort of small notion that maybe women are there for more than bearing children and dancing.
This month’s Femme Picks are the album, Changing Winds by Maddy Prior and the original motion picture score of Emma. written and composed by Isobel Waller-Bridge.
COVID-19 may have shut down the movie theaters at the beginning of the year, but lucky for me, Amazon Prime was offering films that were supposed to be currently playing for rent in their Prime Video service. I wasted zero time, and dropped the money on Emma. as soon as I possibly could. The film was an absolutely phenomenal remake, in my opinion. With Autumn de Wilde directing, it felt more relatable in this day and age.
While I was watching, I kept hearing a voice in the soundtrack that I couldn’t quite place but I was certain I had heard it before.
It drove me mad through my first viewing, as I refused to pause and look it up because I wanted to see the film at least once without any interruption or distraction. Finally as the credits rolled, there she was, Maddy Prior and the Carnival Band and I immediately felt a rush of nostalgia. For those who are unaware, Maddy Prior is an English Folk singer with a 50-year career singing both original Folk songs and also classics from the days of yore.
The first song I heard Maddy Prior sing on the Emma. soundtrack was an old hymnwritten in 1787 by Robert Keen, titled ‘How Firm a Foundation.’ It had been a long time since I had listened to any music with religious connotations but this one I knew, and with Maddy’s melodic songbird tone, it was quite moving.
Isobel-Waller Bridges’ decision to incorporate this iconic woman into her film score to give it a more authentic and enticing feel was pure genius, and I applaud both of them immensely for their work on this beautiful soundtrack. The whole experience inspired me to go on a hunt for one of Maddy Prior’s albums and after some extensive digging and hunting, I emerged victorious with a copy of Changing Winds. I purposefully went after this album because it has a very wide variety of style of Folk music as you play through it and, to me, it feels like a journey with the wind guiding you along the way.
Fine English rose in rich soil she grows
Old walls shield her from the wind that blows
Resulting cultivation supplied with every need
Seeking for a weed that’s of the right seed
Proud purple thistle it’s wiser not to pluck
Growing where she can, she never waits for luck
Brought up in a hard school thistle down the wind
Raised on blunt words more sinned against than sinned
I love both of these albums immensely, but notable favorites on each include:
- Emma Woodhouse
- O Waly, Waly
- You Must Sample The Tart
- The Game of Cards
- Queen Bee
On Changing Winds
- Pity the Poor Night Porter
- Accappella Stella
- Ali Baba
- In Fighting
Who exactly is Isobel-Waller Bridge?
“She’s a British composer, known for her scores for film, television and the theatre, alongside her work in jazz, electronic music and contemporary classical music.“
Read more about her here:
Who exactly is Maddy Prior?
“She’s is an English folk singer, best known as the lead vocalist of Steeleye Span.”
Read more about her here:
Want to listen?
Here are some links!
Stay tuned for next month’s Femme Pick!
Enjoyed this album showcase? Check out the full archives of Erin’s series, Vinyl Femmes & RPMs, here: https://vinylwritermusic.com/vinyl-femmes-rpms-archives/