'Capturing lightning in a bottle': New Sō Percussion disc with Caroline Shaw released on Nonesuch

24 June 2021

Sō Percussion has released a new album of songs with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw on Nonesuch Records, entitled Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part, following the success of their "superlative collaboration" on "exquisite disc" Narrow Sea earlier in the year.

Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part features songs that Shaw and Sō Percussion developed over three days of studio time, experimenting with ideas that arose while recording Narrow Sea. The result is a disc of ten tracks, including duets with each member of Sō Percussion, inspired by their own wide-ranging interests: James Joyce, the Sacred Harp hymnal, a poem by Anne Carson, the Bible’s Book of Ruth, the American roots tune “I’ll Fly Away,” a rearrangement of ABBA’s “Lay All Your Love on Me” for marimba and voice, and more.

Co-producer Eric Cha-Beach writes that the studio recording process “had that ‘capturing lightning in a bottle’ feeling...Some songs on Let the Soil were very specifically composed by Caroline, but others were this assemblage of ideas: finding words, an idea for how a melody could work, a harmony, and then tossing it in a blender and trusting each other.”

The album marks Caroline Shaw’s solo vocal recording debut, and the group worked together with producer Jonathan Law, who recently won a Grammy for his work on Taylor Swift’s album folklore, on which Jason Treuting of Sō Percussion also appeared.

The official video to Other Song can be viewed here. The video was shot at Rise and Root Farm, a five-acre farm in New York’s Hudson Valley that is rooted in social justice and run cooperatively by four owners who are women, intergenerational, multi-racial, and LGBTQ; one of the owners, Karen Washington, is featured in the video.

The first single from the album, To The Sky, from the Sacred Harp, takes its lyrics from Anne Steele and is also available to view here, while the video to the title track, which received its first UK airplay on Iggy Pop's BBC 6 Music Show, can be viewed here. Shaw was also a guest on Tom Service's BBC Radio 3 show Music Matters, and spoke about the new release - the show can be heard (from 15:24) here.

Read more and order Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part at the Nonesuch website here.

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