Folky flights of fancy take rising star Lucy from Icaru

Lucy Ward poses enigmatically on a beach, singing her haunting melody, ‘Icarus,’ while the fading sun casts a long shadow over the bleached white sands.

Saturday, 25th January 2014, 4:00 pm
Lucy Ward
Lucy Ward

The dreamy scene could have been filmed in a faraway destination, with foaming surf rushing over the white, limestone pebbles behind her.

“I had planned to do the video track in my mum and dad’s bathroom in Derby, but we ended up filming it on a beach near Llandudno Pier,” joked Lucy.

“I had to walk through a shoal of jellyfish nipping at my feet to get to the surf.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“It was all a bit surreal and definitely my rock and roll moment.”

Lucy Ward rattled the folk establishment with debut album, Adelphi Has To Fly, and when the thoughtful singer songwriter landed the Best Newcomer prize at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, suddenly she was the new girl in town.

“I really can’t believe what has happened in my life. The last 18 months have been a whirlwind,” she said.

“I never planned any of this. It has come completely out of the blue.

“I’m shocked and excited because I was working in a little homespun business.

“I got my Radio 2 award from Badly Drawn Boy and it was like ‘wow.’

A self-confessed music fanatic who’s dabbled in rock, musicals and even a church choir, Lucy discovered folk music almost by accident.

“Unlike a lot of other young folk musicians around, I didn’t grow up in a folky family,” added the 25-year-old.

“All I knew about folk was from hearing Bob Dylan.

“My mum and dad bought me a guitar for my 14th birthday. I’d always been into lyrics and stories and these folk songs I was hearing really captured my imagination – they were mad tales and murder stories.

“Folk had this image of grey bearded men, Arran jumpers and leather sandals.

“That’s fine, but there is a new wave of folk rushing in – a really buoyant scene.

“Kate Rusby, Eliza Carthy, Bellowhead and Mumford and Sons, have shone a giant search light on to the Scene and it feels like we are part of something exciting.”

Ward plays the ukulele, concertina, and Acoustic guitar – and has a giant collection of punk vinyl she is especially proud of.

Her musical influences are rich and varied too.

She tips a hat to Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin and The Clash and her brooding, often angry set takes the listener on a journey through tragedy, love and politics.

“I have a picture of Joe Strummer up in my house so folk hasn’t taken over all my tastes.

“I discovered The Clash at school and their lyrics spoke to me with this powerful, punchy, political message.

“I was never going to write about dry stone walls or flocks of sheep after that.

“I became very militant, dyed my hair blue, stuck a ring in my nose and became a vegan. Folk music – and the lyrics to folk – can be a bit dark and twisted and sometimes they reflect the times.”

One of Ward’s traditional folk songs, Alice in a Box, tells the story of Derbyshire hermit Alice Grace who, on being evicted from her cottage, lived in a box previously used for storing bacon, which had been given to her by the local butcher.

“I used to hear that story when I was a child, and when I did the song suddenly there was a revival in Alice’s story. Music can be a very powerful medium can’t it?”

Ward headlines Womenfolk at Clitheroe’s Grand Theatre on January 31, also featuring Emily Portman and Emma Sweeney on January 31, tickets £10. 01200 421599.

Tony Dewhurst