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Ollie King is one of England’s foremost melodeon players and traditional folk singers. His first album, Gambit, was released three years ago to considerable acclaim: Songlines called it a “well-judged introduction to the work of a terrific musician.”
Diffractions sees King make a bold step forwards; it opens with what has become a viral sensation: on the morning of the Brexit referendum, Ollie posted a video of him playing Haydn’s Austria and Holst’s Thaxted, liberating them from their nationalistic overtones and pairing them as a symbol of European unity. The resulting social media storm ensured they made the record.
From there, King picks up the electric guitar and, with considerably more delicacy and craft than is usual when a folkie “goes electric”, sings a charming interpretation of the traditional Sweet Lemeney.
Throughout, King explores where folk music has overlapped with art music, the classical establishment; Haydn and Holst are joined by Vaughan Williams, Handel and Purcell, nestled cheek-by-jowl with Lal Waterson, Cecil Sharp and Nic Jones. Joined by the talents of Rosie Hood, Tom Kitching, Al Simpson and producer Tom Wright, King explores where folk melodies meet Baroque suites, where the music of England meets its European neighbours. Accompanied by the bold photography of Elly Lucas and textiles of Rosie Butler-Hall, DIFFRACTIONS unfolds as a remarkable, brave sophomore release by a deep-thinking folk musician.