Occasionally, some music comes along which is so moving, so beautiful and so inspiring that I am utterly consumed by it, rarely removing it from the CD player, desperately wanting to shout about it from the rooftops and eager to buy every single release by that artist for eternity.
Such is the case with the incredible new release from Bryter Music of the songs of one Molly Drake. What isn't the same in this particular case is the fact that this is the first, and indeed only, album release by her and given that these private recordings were carried out by her husband, Rodney, during the 1950's, we are lucky to have any to enjoy at all.
Her songs, rich in their emotion, profound and joyful in equal measure, were never meant for public consumption. Though Mrs. Drake was a wordsmith and pianist of some incredible talent, not to mention a sophisticated and accomplished poet (there is an additional booklet of some 45 poems included here), she was a private and humble woman, a family audience for her writings were enough for her and she showed no inclination to make her talent available on any public platform.
Though many of the songs and poems were written in places as far off as Burma and India during the 1930's and 40's, where Rodney Drake was employed overseas, these stories and reflections on a life couldn't be more relevant in their ability to convey touching emotion in the modern world. Fear and sorrow, love and death are not confined to specific periods of history and neither are they relegated to the experience of the few - perhaps this is why recordings of this caliber touch us so deeply, even in another place, in another age, people everywhere experience what we do.
It's easy to see how her influence permeated the music of her son, but it would be a mistake to think that Molly Drake's music and poetry are in any way a diluted versions of Nick's. This is the private work, (gratefully made public by her daughter, Gabrielle Drake, and Cally, the caretaker of Bryter Music) of a woman of immense musical craftsmanship, articulation, humour and grace.
Molly Drake needs no shadow to come out from under - here the limelight is all, deservedly, her own.
N.B: I am, extremely excitedly, currently recording several of Molly Drake's songs for a new Willis EP. Coming, very, very soon....