Twenty-one years after June Tabor and Oysterband collaborated on the classic ‘Freedom And Rain’ album they’ve reconvened to record the magnificent ‘Ragged Kingdom’.

June Tabor & Oysterband’s ‘Freedom And Rain’ remains one of the finest collaborative albums of the past three decades. Bringing together the immense, individual talents of the sublime English folk singer Tabor and the raucous roots rebels Oysterband, it produced something quite new and enduring. When they reunited last year to perform at fRoots Magazine’s 30th birthday party at The Roundhouse, they felt the chemistry spark again. And 21 years on, they’ve made the brand new ‘Ragged Kingdom’, a brilliant, belated follow-up that mixes the traditional with the contemporary in startling fashion.

The traditional ‘Bonny Bunch Of Roses’ rubs shoulders with PJ Harvey’s ‘That Was My Veil’; a lush, acoustic version of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ nestles beside the Scottish trad. song ‘(When I Was No But) Sweet Sixteen’. Stylistically, the participants have each grown even more in stature in the intervening years. June becoming an eclectic song interpreter, drawing inspiration from many sources, and Oysterband systematically re-exploring their own acoustic folk roots. Together, they bring all of this added artistic weight to the project yet with a deftness of touch.

“The spark” says Oysterband’s Ian Telfer “is we really feel we do something together which is different from what we do as separate acts. There is something in the combination of June’s exquisite dark voice with the supple energy of Oysterband that greatly pleases us. June comes to recording fantastically well prepared: every nuance of meaning and feeling considered in advance and plotted in her mind. Then she stands in the studio and delivers one perfect take, like an act of Chinese calligraphy. Or maybe Chinese cooking: the work is all in the preparation. We deliberately left some of the tracks just a little raw: the current zeitgeist definitely favours sounding ‘real’, and that’s just fine by us.”

Ragged Kingdom was recorded first at Rockfield Studios near Monmouth and then at Metway Studios, Brighton, with Oysters’ regular producer Al Scott, Feb to April 2011. “What unites the material on Ragged Kingdom” Telfer continues “is finding the story in the song, and the exact drama in the story: pop songs are often story songs too, and we tried to find things where the story wasn’t banal, which had some shading in them.’ Love Will Tear Us Apart is a great lyric, and so is ‘The Dark End Of The Street’.”

“There’s enough emotional power here to fuel a circuit of the sun. The reunion of Oysterband and Tabor has created a masterpiece.” Songlines

“Striking gold by fusing the contemporary and traditional is at the heart of the folk process. Ragged Kingdom raises the alchemy of that process to the highest level.” The Independent

“This was worth waiting for.” The Guardian

“Glorious.” MOJO ★★★★★

“Oysterband provide tough textures and lyrical twists, while June Tabor could sing the washing instructions on a duvet and make it sound as profound as the Gettysburg Address.” The Word

“…one reunion that works so magnificently, it even overshadows the magical memories of their previous collaboration…” fRoots

track list:
1 Bonny Bunch Of Roses
2 That Was My Veil
3 Son David
4 Love Will Tear Us Apart
5 (When I Was No But) Sweet Sixteen
6 Judas (Was A Red-Headed Man)
7 If My Love Loves Me
8 The Hills Of Shiloh
9 Fountains Flowing
10 The Leaves Of Life
11 Seven Curses
12 The Dark End Of The Street

June Tabor voice
John Jones voice, melodeon
Ray Cooper cello, mandolin, bass guitar, harmonium, voice
Dil Davies drums
Alan Prosser guitars, kantele, fiddle, voice
Ian Telfer fiddle
Al Scott bass guitar, mandola

Further information can be found at: