A bold re-working inspired by Shirley Collins
Rob St John

Shirley Collins is one of Britain's true gems.

Blessed with a remarkable depth of knowledge concerning traditional songwriting, the singer has always sought to challenge and provoke. Recently celebrated with a full tribute album, Shirley Collins' work seems to epitomise both the value placed on the past and the necessity of the future.

'Shirley Inspired' will be released on June 15th, a triple-CD package which features everyone from Graham Coxon, Lee Ranaldo and Bitchin Bonnie Billy Bajas (Bonnie Prince Billy) to comedian Stewart Lee.

Rob St John and Modern Studies recorded a version of 'Bold Fisherman', a piece of traditional song which Shirley Collins made her own. Rob St John explains:

"Shirley Collins has a voice that's almost impossible to ignore: so clear and pure yet full of warmth and nuance, her music is full of imaginary potential for much older English traditions and landscapes. I have been listening to her records for years, and it's uncanny how her version of a traditional song (whether solo, with her sister Dolly, or with Davy Graham or the Albion Band) so often becomes 'the' definitive version in my mind, regardless of whoever else I hear playing it."

"'The Bold Fisherman' is a song I heard originally sung by the Copper Family, a version of which Shirley recorded with her sister Dolly for their LP 'Love, Death and the Lady', but which never made the final cut. As 'Modern Studies', with Emily Scott and Pete Harvey, we tried to echo the rolling, meditative tone of her version, attempting to figure out the various meanings of the song (A simple love story? Something altogether more celestial?) as we went."

Check it out now.

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