I went to the FolkEast festival last weekend, not least because it was walking distance from my house. I haven’t been to a festival for years, and more fool me. One of the first acts I saw there was Lisa Knapp, who had a four piece band behind her and she was sublime. I went and bought her CD from the information tent as soon as her set was over.
If you haven’t heard her, she sounds like this. And looks like this. She’s got a powerful voice, a little bit Kate Bush, a little bit Bjork, but newer, more now somehow and much as it pains me to say it, I think she’s actually better than Kate. If the entire music thing hadn’t gone fractal I’d have said she’d be bigger than Kate Bush in a year or two, but I’m not sure that’s how things work these days.
What I particularly like about her stuff is the way she explores a dark side of music, or life, or folk tales. Years ago I read about a man who went to get the papers one morning and found, rather to his surprise, a woman in what he presumed to be a shroud, dancing a few inches above the pavement in a perfectly ordinary street of terraced houses. She was still there when he came back from the shop, avoiding her side of the road, so he didn’t go that way again. And you hear these stories and think why? Why would anyone make that up? What would they do that for, exactly, if they didn’t want to get sectioned?
So when I heard Lisa Knapp singing Black Horse I was surprised by the power of her voice but also by the darkness she was flirting with, so much so that she turns a conversation/analogy between Life and Death, darkness and light into a lullaby. You can see it here. I watched it half an hour ago and I’ve still got chills running up my back because of something someone once told me.
I bought a car once from a friend’s girlfriend’s grandfather. It was an old car but he hadn’t exactly run this Mk V Sunbeam Rapier into the ground. He was out driving one night, with his wife, when just like an old joke, someone ran past him. Which was odd but fine in and of itself, expect he was doing about 60 mph and the man ran straight past the car in the same direction. Then it got odder, because the man flipped around and started running backwards, staring into the car as he ran a couple of feet in front of the bonnet. The old man braked, as well you might, but not in time or at least what he thought was time, because the man ran through the car. He could see him as he came through the dashboard, through the gap between the seats and out of the back of the car. The old man drove to the next town and found a police station to tell them what happened. They said it had happened before, there.
And again, why would you make that up? What would possess anyone to make that up and go to the police to tell them about it? I have no idea, whether it’s true, why anyone would make it up or any of it. But Lisa Knapp singing Black Horse in her video took me right back there to the day I heard that story and reminded me how I felt, driving that car at night. Nothing happened. How could it?