Elle Osborne releases her new album It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice on November 6th 2015, on 9th House Recordings, the home of her acclaimed debut, Testimony.
Her third solo album, It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice is the first to feature her own songs. With a nod to her musical roots – and her adopted home of Sussex. The one traditional song on the new album is “Come Write Me Down” from English folk royalty, the Copper family, whence comes the album’s title (with the blessing of chief John Copper, himself). With this one exception, all tracks were written, arranged and produced by Elle.
At the heart of the album is Elle’s unique vocal sound, which Alex Neilson of Trembling Bells likens to “A cross between Lal Waterson and Nico” – and gained her a nomination for Spiral Earth’s Singer of the Year in 2012. Also featured, are her recurrent collaborators Alasdair Roberts on backing vocals and bass and Alex Neilson, with his Trembling Bells colleague, Mike Hastings, on drums and guitars, respectively.
It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice was recorded in four sunny days on the south coast of England, by David Lynch, best known for his work with Ed Harcourt. Elle’s collaborators, being veterans of inner-city Glasgow’s music scene, were none too impressed by the genteel seaside setting, with Mike Hastings quipping, “Eastbourne’s so depressing, no wonder they put Beachy Head there!”.
And so out of that atmosphere of conviviality and joy, come nine songs celebrating survivors and survival: from the opening track “I Don’t Like Sundays” wherein Elle’s protagonist beseeches a friend to hold on, as “Sundays always do this to you, darling…”, to “Toast (The Ballad of Michael ‘Mini’ Cooper)” written in honour of ‘Mini’ Cooper, a child arsonist and unrecognised genius. Incarcerated from the age of 10 for setting fire to the house where his abusive father was asleep inside, Mini Cooper was the subject of a 1974 documentary made by Franc Roddam, who went on to direct Quadrophenia. Elle wrote the song after seeing the documentary, and called it “Toast”, as Elle says, “Because toast is what he made of his Dad’s house”. On a whim, Elle sent her recording of the song to Franc Roddam’s production company, and the very next day the director got in touch, to tell her that it had him close to tears. It’s no surprise when Elle sings: “When you’re silenced with violence, and you’re given no chance and no choice. When you’re brilliant and bored and you’re beaten, fire is your vengeance and voice.”
The album’s front cover photo shows Elle’s grandmother, Katherine Compton in a drinking competition at Sidmouth Festival in the 1960s. Elle grew up thinking this’s what grandmothers did! Kath Compton is still remembered by many in British and Irish folk music for booking The Watersons, Peter Bellamy, et al, for their first folk club gigs.
Still the voice of the outsider, and now with added touches of Americana to her folk heritage, It’s Not Your Gold Shall Me Entice is Elle’s most accessible record to date.