Sue Harding's unique voice, range and heartfelt delivery creates a hauntingly beautiful sound. Her songs are delicate but powerful, full of poetry and invention that never fails to enchant.
'Flight', her first album of original songs is a loving homage to Americana . Simple, scaled down and timeless. Indeed, there is a retro sensibility to much of her music that references the song writing of the 1960s and '70s.
Now there is a new album; conceived under lockdown and recorded in a week with Josh Clark of Get Real Audio. It is called 'Darkling'...
These new songs reflect a renewed connection to the English landscape, and the late Victorian poetry which inspires so many of them. 'Darkling' explores themes of loss, redemption, hope, joy and survival.
All About Sue Harding
I was born in London but my parents headed for the hills so I was brought up in the Cotswolds, at that time an isolated rural paradise. I am grateful. Later the big city called, so I read for a degree in English Literature and Language at Manchester. After that I had no idea. An old friend called me up one snowy northern day and asked me to help pay the rent on a big, scruffy flat in Bath in the West of England. When I got there it was April and there was blossom on the trees and those buildings! That was it really and where ever else I have had to be, I have returned to the west country. There were a few years spent in the west of Wales where I qualified a teacher before returning to Bath and a career teaching English in secondary schools. Nowadays I live in Frome.
I have always written and played music and don't remember a time when I couldn't sing. I got into roots and folk music in Manchester when I shared digs with two girls from Newry. They took me to mass and they took me to pubs where Irish music was played. So that I'd know what it was all about!
Later, during the Wales days I frequented a session held at a pub in Llanarthne, run by a guy called Terry. He played English folk on a squeeze box and taught me so many songs. Happy days! All this time I'd write and play my own stuff, picking up songs and techniques from the musicians I met.
The first time I ever went to a proper folk club was at around this time. I sang Franklin's Lament very slowly and nearly fell off my stool with joy and surprise when the whole room sang the harmonies back at me. It was Wales.
My parents bought me a guitar for my 14th birthday after suffering my piano playing for a few years. They were not a musical family and thought that if you didn't get it spot on the first time, then practising for hours until you did was plain bad manners. My dad said that as far as he knew it wasn't possible to make a nasty, annoying noise on the guitar. Clearly, his experience of these matters was limited!
That guitar was smashed by an angry boyfriend. I don't think he minded my playing ...he just minded me and destroyed something I valued. I didn't play for a few years until my first husband discovered that I could, and replaced the guitar. I think that like a lot of women, I have waited politely to be asked and it has taken a long time and the internet.. for me to just get on with it. It's been quite a journey!
My first real recording was as a guest singer on Tony Doddery (Carter)'s utterly beautiful album, 'Rolling Hills and Running Water' 2007 Toned Records. I sang The Silver Dagger because Tony reckoned it was a girl's song. It is Henry Sears playing the stunning fiddle to the track and Mike Vince on Percussion.
Over the next ten years I created a body of my own work, ready to be recorded and developed. I also stepped up as a performer through my association with Lou Baxter, a fabulous singer and songwriter in her own right and my partner in the duo Angel Ridge. I was much involved with the Bath Folk Club at that time.
The Angel Ridge project began when the two of us realised how much we liked the same sort of thing; that we could support each other as musicians and song writers to develop something fresh and new. We decided to start with country blues and wrote accordingly.
When that ended, I began playing solo gigs, supported on guitar by the wonderful Mr Ali George also a great singer, song writer and guitar player with several acclaimed albums to his name. I was very lucky to have him playing with me.
During this time when I lived in Bath,the sessions held on a Sunday evening in the Star Inn were my favourite. My friend Tim Graham started it all: a singers' session to balance out all the crazy tune players. For a whole year Tim ran a blog called 'A Sunday Song', where he put our songs, sneakily recorded from those sessions and recordings. These days Rob Winder continues to run the sessions. And I have moved to Frome.
I recorded 'Flight', my first album of original songs in 2016. My flirtation with Americana shows in the songs. Ali George joins me on this album. The record was recorded,engineered and mastered by Josh Clark of Get Real Audio who has magic ears and irreproachable professionalism. Ali and I had a blast gigging the songs and the album was well reviewed.
In the two years before lock-down, after my move to Somerset, I was part of duo Harding McCabe. I played electric guitar and McCabe, his mandolin We recorded an EP before going our separate musical ways in 2019 and I began to work on the songs that would become 'Darkling.
I am so excited about the new album and can't wait to share it with you.