Late last year, Visions Of Albion came to our attention with their single, You’re Not Alone – a ditty with echoes of Fleetwood Mac and late ’00s Wilco.
It was the lead single from the band’s debut self-titled EP which landed at the end of last month.
The Liverpool-based duo consisting of Samantha Shields and Daniel Ryan continue on the strength of You’re Not Alone with a release that provides soft ambient rays of light.
Old Time Blues is a perfect example of this while the rockier Daily Life leans more on the aforementioned Fleetwood Mac vibes, which leads into the closing track, All That I Know – a light orchestral ballad reaching for traditional ’70s songwriting. It ends the EP beautifully.
Not withstanding the COVID-19 pandemic, the folk/Americana scene in Liverpool has gained traction over the last 18 months with Visions Of Albion joining the likes of Motel Sundown, John Witherspoon, Mike Blue and Ali Horn as the leading lights. It makes for exciting times coming out of lockdown with the proposition of live music on the horizon.
Shortly after the release of Visions Of Albion, we managed to have a chat with Sheilds and Ryan who were more than happy to take part in our 13 Questions feature.
1. Firstly, congratulations on your new self-titled EP. How’s the reception been so far?
Visions Of Albion: “Thanks! The reception’s been really good! We did a run of limited-edition CDs which sold out in a day. It was Klee Music‘s quickest sell-out to date, so that was great! Other than that, though, we’re really happy with the reception that it’s got so far and so grateful to everyone (including yourselves!) that have helped to support us!”
2. Can you tell us about the history of how the band got together?
VOA: “Well, we first met in college back in 2012. For a few years, we just performed and helped out a bunch of local acts, but it wasn’t until, by chance, a friend of ours invited us to an open mic. We didn’t actually intend on playing but, as things go, we ended up doing a few covers; enjoyed it, starting going regularly and just took off from there!”
3. How did the songs for Visions of Albion come together?
VOA: “It took us a while to get everything together – nearly two years. It wasn’t helped by COVID, but we were going to take our time either way! In terms of the songs actually coming together, though, it was just a process of recording tracks and throwing as much as we could on them. When we were satisfied, we’d strip away the parts we thought unnecessary and tidied up what remained. We recorded an awful lot of material that just didn’t make the cut. Apart from one song, the entire EP is a completely different tracklist to what we first came in and recorded!”
4. The artwork is a really striking piece. What was the inspiration behind it?
VOA: “Thanks again! Really, apart from wanting something in the vein of some of our favourites, the biggest piece of inspiration probably came from the opening line of You’re Not Alone – it’s just a very visual kind of line.
“We worked with the excellent Jack Burrell, of the equally-excellent Belle Illustrations, and he really made our thoughts’ reality. He was so attentive to what we wanted and completely brought that vision to life. We wanted something to reflect what, we felt, was the ‘earthen’ quality of the music and I think Jack really got the concept.”
5. How have you been coping with the lockdown situation?
VOA: “It’s ironic, really – we’ve probably been busier than we’ve ever been. I think we’re just at the point now, like most people, where we just want to get back out there and get playing.”
6. Who would you consider to be your major influences?
VOA: “We say this quite often – it’s not so much certain artists as it is a certain ‘sound’. Obviously, a lot of it goes hand-in-hand, but we like far more than just Americana and folk-rock. We’re also really inspired by blues, gospel, soul, world music – you name it!”
7. We ask a lot of artists this, what’s your take on social media?
VOA: “It’s great, but it’s also a LOT of work! We really love how it keeps us connected with everything and even something like someone leaving a nice comment can really make our day. On the other hand, though, bands should just be allowed to play music – they shouldn’t have to worry about all that kind of stuff. But, that’s just the way it is now, eh? Maybe we’re just Luddites!”
8. Have you got any hobbies outside of music?
VOA: “Sam likes to keep creative. She’ll paint, draw, write – anything to keep those creative juices flowing! Dan reads a lot; enjoys video games and working his way through his ‘to watch’ list!”
9. When did you last make yourself do something you didn’t want to?
VOA: “Getting up for work this morning!”
10. Films or boxsets?
VOA: “Now, this is a tough one! We’d probably say both. We watch more movies, but that’s because we often just don’t have the time for a boxset. Though, when we next get some downtime, Boardwalk Empire may get binge-watched!”
11. Name some local artists that we should be listening to?
“VOA: “No doubt what our answer is, we’ll be doing a disservice as there’s so much great local talent! But we really like Motel Sundown – they’re great and really cool in person. Limerance are great, too, and we’ve had the pleasure of playing with both – let’s hope it’s not too long before we can do so again! Someone we haven’t played with but have been listening to a lot recently is Evie Moran – well worth checking out!”
12. With live gigs slowly returning in the coming months, what’s the plan for the band for the rest of the year?
VOA: “Just to try and get out there; play as many gigs as we can. Now that the EP has been released, we’re hoping to get a few dates with a full band, so we’re looking forward to that. Otherwise, it’s just the same old – rehearse, write, record, repeat!”
13. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Any last words?
VOA: “More than anything, we’d just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s helped us along the way. That could be those involved in the production of the EP, those who’ve bought a copy, supported us and, as we said earlier, the likes of yourselves for giving us exposure. Cheers everyone!”
Visions Of Albion is out now via Klee Music. Purchase from Bandcamp.