Isobel Anderson
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Isobel Anderson

Brighton, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2009 | SELF

Brighton, United Kingdom | SELF
Established on Jan, 2009
Solo Folk Experimental


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Isobel Anderson Cold Water Songs"

She's from Brighton but is living and studying in Belfast now. She's just released her debut album Cold Water Songs, in between finishing an MA in Sonic Arts at Queens University and about to start a Phd on Northern Ireland folklore which she is going to map using digital media.

I've been playing "Cold Water Songs" over and over since I got it this morning. Her voice reminds me of Beth Orton, that easy, effortless beauty combined with gorgeous songs. My favourite is called Seaside Suicide. She tells me it's not an actual death, but about the break up of a relationship. She had just moved over here, her boyfriend was still in London, and she was sitting on the beach at Newcastle (County Down) struggling with her life back in England and how much she was beginning to care about this new place. Shedding that life and love was like walking into the sea and letting it wrap its arms around her she told me. I think I'm just going to have to listen to it again with that insight from her.

Isobel is singing live on Arts Extra tomorrow by the way. - BBC Arts Extra

"Isobel Anderson - My Love/An Hour With You"

There’s something romantic about the simple sounds of an acoustic guitar, a soulful folk voice and an attractive song. So it is with Belfast based singer-songwriter and musician Isobel Anderson who we stumbled (or rather waded) across in the Acoustic tent at a rather muddy Glastonbury Festival this year and instantly fell in love with.

With a debut solo album Cold Water under her belt, September 14 will see a second release – Dark Path – and if our instant enchantment was just a rush of blood to the head then Dark Path has all the signs of making this something a little more permanent. If you’re a fan of Laura Marling and her folk heritage then the chances are you will love these songs from the record that brood with gentle Celtic boldness and intimacy. When you listen to the words it’s as if you’re reading someone’s secret diary or eavesdropping on someone’s private conversation for these are songs of relationships and love. To make things seem a little less naked there’s guitar, cajon and violin to clothe the songs a little, although never over heavily. As you listen though, it doesn’t matter if you are prying because honestly, there’s nothing better than feeling that spark, is there? - Breaking More Waves

"Isobel Anderson no.2 - Dark Path"

Isobel Anderson has quickly become one of my favourite folk acts, since discovering her debut 'Cold Water Songs' I've found myself completely enchanted with her music, Isobel has one of the most beautiful voices I've heard in recent times, a pretty, soulful warmth that is perfect for late night relaxation, something I'm in need of right now after work has been demanding far more of my time than I'd like it to - and I'm not even going to talk about EOTR!

Her second release 'Dark Path' is set for release on September 14th, (order a limited edition CD or download here as well as 'Cold Water Songs' here), expanding upon the debut's bare-bones approach with the addition of violin strokes, gentle percussion and at times, some heavy guitar strumming, 'Dark Path' still retains the personal nature of her song-craft over the albums eight tracks. A melancholic air dominates throughout, emotionally intimate themes predominitely of love lost and found heard through Isobel's wonderful guitar strokes and vocal elegance.

"My Love" is divine. Isobel's warm voice combine with her fluttering guitar work and violin strokes, it's the definition of serenity, beautiful tender music that is enough to melt your heart. One of my highlights is the divine "Let Me Go" where intricate guitar plucks gently lead a heartfelt tale of a broken relationship and then comes the album closer and probably my favourite, the superb title track. Stark, raw and expressive, it's just beautiful, I'm repeating myself but Isobel's voice is simply breathtaking, it seems so effortless too, I'm sure it's not!

I didn't want to use the LM word here, let's just say fans of contemporary and traditional folk will find their next love with Isobel. 'Dark Path' is beautifully created, production is top-notch and the album is highly, highly recommended.

If you are in her hometown, Belfast, Isobel plays a launch show on the date of the albums release (details), with a London show planned for Proud Camden at the end of September. - Just Music That I like

"Stories From The Sea"

Coming soon - AU Magazine

"In My Garden"

Isobel Anderson's relationship with Belfast is affectionate, to say the least. She only arrived here a few years ago after spending her formative years in Lewes, East Sussex and then living in London, where she tried in vain to penetrate the city's heaving music scene. But, as she said in 2011, it was when she moved to Belfast that 'everything fell into place'.

It was study that brought Anderson to Belfast – she completed a Master's degree, followed by a PhD, at Queen's University's Sonic Arts Research Centre, and recorded her debut album there in 2010. Cold Water Songs put her on the map within Belfast's hiving folk and singer-songwriter scenes – audiences and peers were captivated by her haunting vocals and a playful, intimate take on the English folk tradition. Radio play and press interviews duly followed, as they did for its follow-up, the more pop-oriented Dark Path.

Now, after an extended stay in England, Anderson is back in Northern Ireland with her third album, In My Garden, On first listen, the song is delightful but rudimentary, a tale of romance set to gently strummed guitar and keening violin. But, once Anderson intones, 'So I guess I'll come clean', the song pulls the rug from under your feet in rather a clever way. I won't spoil it, but it's early evidence that Anderson is a songwriter who likes to defy convention.

The album's first single, 'Gentleman', is a vehicle for Anderson's sense of humour, as she sets about wooing the well-bred chap of the title with a heavy dose of irony. 'Pour me another cup of tea,' she exclaims in the chorus. 'Load up my scone with some cream. I need a gentleman… You're a gentleman.' It's cheeky and coquettish and, it must be said, the most quintessentially English song this side of 'Knees Up Mother Brown'.

But Anderson is at her best later in the album, when she indulges her darker side. It suits her voice to put it to the service of minor-key melodies and spare arrangements, singing words of sorrow and angst. 'The Third Death' does just that, as Anderson turns her attention to the Mexican belief that we die not once, but three times.

As the chorus goes, 'When I go, that's the first. The second's when I'm in my grave. And the third's when the world no longer speaks my name.' That haunting thought is interwoven with a ghostly scene on a water's edge, as Anderson wrestles with a bout of existential angst, set to the best melody of the entire album.

The very next track, 'Little Sounds Of Pain' is almost as gripping. It's an unhappy paean to tinnitus – the permanent ringing in the ears from which Anderson suffers. She describes the condition as 'a mournful song with no melody', and as a jealous foe, while paradoxically setting it to some hauntingly lovely music. As so often on this album, guest artist Ruby Colley's wonderful folk violin is to the fore.

A version of the folk standard 'Peggy Gordon' is similarly bleak yet beautiful, before we arrive at the title track, 'In My Garden', another song with a twist, and yet another eerie meditation on death.

Taken all together, the album's second half is dark, emotionally intense and brave, and it makes you wonder what an entire album's worth of Anderson's dark side would sound like. As it is, there's a slight disconnect in tone with the more cheery moments early on. Indeed, it's hard to believe that 'Gentleman' and 'The Third Death' share the same track list.

But when In My Garden hits its stride, it’s a deliciously dark treat – the sound of a young songwriter facing her fears and tackling them head-on. In My Garden is available to download now.

- See more at: the love affair with Belfast is writ large from the very first song, 'Botanical Romance', with its references to (yes) Botanic Gardens, 'the city market' and our inclement weather. - Culture Northern Ireland

"Isobel Anderson - Gentleman"

Remember the time we weren’t sipping whiskey in a seedy bar? Yeah, it happened once. I was having a nice latte and enjoying the sounds of Isobel Anderson in the Black Box Café and they blew me away with their final tune of the night; the one about bad thoughts and good men. Oh, you remember it now you filthy lot!

Well, dear readers, the track is called ‘Gentleman’ and will be available this Friday. The single’s being officially launched at Culture Night Belfast with a set in St Anne’s Cathedral where the voices and violin will soar right up into the rafters.

Isobel Anderson

It’s one of those tracks that just gives you goose bumps. It’s like the first time you heard Laura Marling all over again. Sublime vocals, delicate guitar and some beautifully subtle violin from Ruby Colley. As the lead single from her soon to be released album ‘In My Garden’ it showcases the experience and maturity you’d expect in both its writing and delivery. Isobel Anderson could be the finest female folk artist you haven’t heard yet.

Oh and God, if you call into the cathedral gig, it’s definitely just a chorus about cream tea in a nice café, right? - Folk and Tumble

"Interview - Isobel Anderson"

We caught up with folk musician and sound design artist Isobel Anderson, talking about her use of soundscapes in her music, creating a different perspective for folk music, the process behind the creation of her albums, her collaboration with Passenger, along with a bit of advice for independent musicians!

You use a lot of soundscapes in your music. What inspired you to do this?

I’ve done a lot of soundscape work in other areas. I did an MA in sound art and just finished a PhD in it, so I really specialized in that kind of thing, and voice. I wanted to incorporate that into the music which I’ve already established.

So what does it add to the song for you?

I think it places the songs in a particular context, and it also works as a kind of transportation for the songs between each other, which I think is quite interesting.

Who are the influences that inspired you to do this?

I think there are examples of people who use field recordings, like Laura Marling with her first album, right at the end of the last track, she has a recording of birds. So I guess there are examples like that, where you’re taken from the music into every day life, but I wanted to kind of really explore.. well what if its not pretty birds, what if it’s a bunch of drunk guys at the pub, like at the beginning of Don’t on In My Garden. So on Know Your Heart on the second verse you hear children play, but at the same time there is this really low organ note, and I wanted to use that because Don’t is about losing that almost innocent confidence we have with youth, and I wanted to juxtapose that with the sentiment of the song, that as you grow older maybe that starts to slip away from you, as experience teaches you that you actually know nothing.

You do a bit of spoken word as well, like in ‘These Places Should Only Be Imagined’- do these pieces make you feel different to when you sing?

It is different, but it’s interesting because I approach those pieces very similarly to how I’d approach a song, even though they’re made while I’m walking, and as I walk I collect different materials like field recordings and I take notes and I create poems, and also photographs, and objects, so sometimes they’re installations as much as they’re sound work. So I think they’re all hinged around the voice, which is hinged around words, and the way that the words are verbalised.

So do you perform these poems when you do gigs, or do you perform mainly the songs?

I am starting to find they’re being mixed together a bit more, so I did a performance of These Places Should Only Be Imagined but I also sang a couple of songs, and I hadn’t really done that before, but they’re slowly becoming more and more intertwined.

So in the long term, do you see sound design or the songs as the main focus?

I would like to do both. I’m thinking of getting some remixes of In My Garden with DJs and producers and see if we can get some remixes of In My Garden out and record a new album, so that would be the next 12 months. But I also have ideas for bigger sound art research projects, and I see that both benefit one another, and I can see how gradually they may become more intertwined.

Would you recommend all artists to learn recording techniques and produce themselves?

It depends on the kind of person you are, if you enjoy collaboration, and if you’re genuinely interesting in recording techniques. If you’re not interested, don’t do it. You have to be prepared to do it to industry standard, and if you’re not interested in that, it’s not going to be good. I made my album form the perspective of studying sound art, so it brings a whole new perspective to folk music.

Jamie Cullum commented on your music and he was a big fan. What came of that- have you done any collaborations?

Nothing happened with Jamie Cullum, though I wouldn’t rule that out at all. I guess the most notable collaboration would be with Passenger, where we worked quite closely on his first solo album, and worked on getting vocals together. Sometimes I even did 4-part backing vocal harmonies to his songs. So I really enjoyed that process. I really got to be involved with somebody else’s songs and the process of making it into an album.

Both of you are from Brighton right? How does it compare to London, because there seems to be a very tight-knit music community in Brighton. Would you ever re-locate to London?

I just find with London unless you’re really out of that grassroots or mid-level point, it's very hard to really enjoy the benefits of being part of a music network or the music scene in a city, because you’re generally playing for free, with not many people listening to you, and never seeing the same people again that you shared the stage with.

Do you make an effort to get to know the audience at a gig?

I think it’s important to keep in contact, reply to messages on social media and so on, but you also need to keep a balance. You need to not tie up your own personality too much with your songs. I want the songs to be as much about other people’s lives when they listen to them as well as mine, and also as an artist you need to keep a certain privacy, so it's hard getting that balance sometimes.

Great, well thanks a lot for the interview, and coming down to London!

To find out more about Isobel and take a listen to her music, you can check out her website here - Concentus Music


In My Garden
Nine track album released in December 2013

Dark Path
Eight track ablum released in September 2011

Cold Water Songs
An eight track album released August 2010

Isobel Anderson
A four track E.P. released 2008



"I love this record... Real effortless simplicity. Dark path is a great album"

Jamie Cullum - BBC Radio 2

"Beautiful, shimmering and wonderful... I highly recommend the album… a stunning new record"

Lauren Laverne - BBC Radio 6 Music

Isobel's music weaves a lyrical landscape teetering on the darker side of life with the gentle lilt of British Folk influences, soft crooner lullabies and soulful climaxes. In 2010 Isobel released her intimate debut album Cold Water Songs, receiving high praise and airplay from BBC Radio 3's Late Junction and BBC Radio Ulster. This was followed by her 2011 album Dark Path, which was featured on Radio 2 by Jamie Cullum and The Guardian's Music podcast. Isobel's third album In My Garden was released in December 2013, and received high praise from BBC Radio 6 Music's Lauren Lavern, and BBC Radio 2’s Jamie Cullum.

Isobel has also sung on three of Passenger's albums, and in June 2013 released The Sussex Sessions, a collaboration EP with Ruby Colley consisting of three reinterpretations of traditional folksongs. Live performances to date include Glastonbury's Acoustic stage, London's Proud Galleries and The Roundhouse, Cecil Sharp House and Belfast's Open House Music Festival. Isobel can also be spotted lurking about with a recording device, making sound installations in and about various landscapes, which you will find here.