Why is it that I keep hearing so much about Sacred Harp and shape-note singing lately? Everywhere I turn, there is an article in the the press or someone I know is going to a singing. Could there be a renaissance of this gorgeous, almost-lost art happening, or is it just one of those things where once you’re aware of it, you see it everywhere—like dandruff?
Moira smiley & VOCO have just released an 8-song EP of old tunes and new spirituals, recorded live in Bloomington, Indiana last May titled “circle, square, diamond and flag.” (From the names of the shapes traditonally used to notate Sacred Harp hymns.) It’s a brilliant collection of modal gems that reflect Moira’s obsession with ancient world harmonies and contemporary creativity. As an example, compare this VOCO track with Tim Eriksen’s version of the same song, from my previous post:
I tend to steer away from live recordings, because so many don’t hold up to repeated listening as well as studio albums do. “Circle, square, diamond and flag” is the exception to this rule—in fact, I think the natural reverb of the venue helped to create a stately and spiritual overall vibe to this release. And I dig the interplay of cello and banjo. Here are two more samples—enjoy! And don’t forget to visit her site and buy it if you like it.
Moira Smiley Website (listen and buy)