(R)evolutionary Record: The Darwin Song Project
Under house arrest by art and science, or what evolution has to do with independent music.
By Maria Popova
You may have forgotten Charles Darwin’s birthday — he turned 200 in February — but you still have a chance to commemorate it. Recently, Neil Pearson, owner of Fish Records and director of the UK’s Shrewsbury Folk Festival, persuaded 8 of Britain’s finest singer-songwriters to visit Darwin’s farm house. Little did they know he’d lock them inside for one week and have them create an album from scratch, dedicated to the life and work of the eminent evolutionist.
What has emerged is a juicy mix of storytelling and incredible talent, dubbed the Darwin Song Project.
British singer/songwriter and multinstrumentalist Jez Lowe, for instance, found inspiration in Darwin’s personal affairs: His wife, Emma, with whom he never seemed to agree, always wanted to spend more time with her husband, who spent countless hours away from Emma on his work, Voyage of The Beagle. They differed on many levels, particularly in the clash between Emma’s belief in God and Charles’ evolutionary theory. Lowe writes,
Where’ve you been, your tea’s been in the oven. Come home now.
Other artists include Rachael McShane, Stu Hanna, Emily Smith, Chris Wood, Mark Erelli, Karine Polwart and Krista Detor — and they seem to have had a blast collaborating. Catch their reflections on the experience here and here.
Originally created for a live concert at Theatre Severn in March, the music from the project will be released as an album this summer. The group will also reconvene to perform at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival in late August.
Stay tuned on the project’s website.
Update: The album is now out, and it’s every bit as fantastic as we’ve come to expect it to be. Grab a copy.
Published May 5, 2009