Somerset, England based singer-songwriter Ange Hardy has just released “Esteesee” (2015, Story Records), a great new album of songs inspired by the life and work of English romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (21 October 1772 – 25 July 1834) – the ‘Esteesee’ in the title (pronounced Ess-Tee-See), or as he preferred to refer to himself S.T.C. A follow up to the critically-acclaimed “The Lament of the Black Sheep” (2014, Story Records), Esteesee finds Ange Hardy stretching herself by taking on specific source material but coming up trumps with a stellar set of wonderfully arranged songs.
Best known for writing “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Kubla Khan”, Coleridge will be familiar to many who, like myself, grew up in the UK in the 70s when his poetry was an essential part of your GCE O-Level English Literature education. But these songs take more than the poetry as their inspiration, also focusing on Coleridge’s relationships with friends and family, as well as characters and stories from his life, and even tales based on his dinner table conversation.
The album features guest vocals and tenor guitar from Steve Knightley (Show of Hands), Patsy Reid on fiddle, viola and cello, Lukas Drinkwater on double bass, Archie Churchill-Moss on diatonic accordion, Jonny Dyer on piano, Jo May (percussion), Andrew Pearce (drums), Kate Rouse as the damsel with the hammered dulcimer (Kubla Khan) and Steve Pledger on backing vocals with poetry readings from David Milton (the Watchet Town Crier) and fellow broadcaster Tamsin Rosewell. The packaging is first rate and clearly lovingly put together. Excellent liner notes from Ange accompany each track, providing an insight into Coleridge – the man and poet, and the story behind each song.
It’s a fabulous album featuring great musicianship, gorgeous vocals, and great use of Coleridge’s life and poetry to create songs that playfully come to life in front of you. A joy for the ears – I honestly wish I’d been introduced to Coleridge this way when I was at school. There are really too many fine songs to single out just one, a beautifully tracked album that will definitely be around at awards time, a fine introduction to the life and work of Coleridge and a great advert for Somerset and Exmoor tourism. Who’s joining me on the Coleridge Way?
For more information about Ange Hardy, visit angehardy.com.