The Portraits
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The Portraits

London, England, United Kingdom | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2006
Duo Folk Alternative

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Jul
28
The Portraits @ Festival de Meschers

Poitou-Charentes, France

Poitou-Charentes, France

May
22
The Portraits @ Bournemouth Folk Club

Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom

Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom

May
14
The Portraits @ The Harrison - Bar, Kitchen & Hotel

London, England, United Kingdom

London, England, United Kingdom

Music

Press


In 2014 The Portraits toured the UK recording the voices of 2000 people before adding them into the chorus of the song 'The Rest Of Time', an attempt to increase the numbers on the bone marrow registry. It's a lovely idea and the song is featured here alongside gentle, harmony-led songs that act as snapshots of, well, a band on tour —from lamenting the ruthlessness of the city to celebrating the simple act of watching the moon. Formed by husband-and-wife songwriting team Jeremy and Lorraine Millington, their concerns reflect the sound of the band — personal and human, with songs that ask questions rather than deliver answers, peppered by the occasional outburst of concerned anger: in 'Small But Strong' they sing of how 'A mile above, a murder of suits put a value on love as power pollutes.' Harmonies ooh and aah, strings slide in and out, and the album's final song 'Stand By' is a sublime piece of defiant yet fragile folk-pop. Boll Whalley - R2 Rock N Reel magazine


The 11 songs on this album were initially recorded backstage at gigs and even on ferries, apparently using just the aid of an iphone or a laptop. Inevitably there was a bit of studio trickery used in the final mix, but, given the makeshift background to the proceedings, it's impressive stuff. 'Wall Of Silence', with its shimmering strings and Lorraine Millington's haunting vocals, could easily be a Kate Bush outtake, while the pair's harmonies soar seamlessly on tracks like 'The Rest Of Time'. And don't be fooled by the general 'easy on the ear' ambience — dig into the lyrics and you'll find this is more overtly political than Jeremy Corbyn. JP, December 2015 - Acoustic Magazine


Mellow melodies, alluring arrangements, haunting harmonies, Alt Folkies, The Portraits fresh from performing at this year's Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festivals have produced an album of sheer beauty in their new release "Lions & Butterflies".
From the opening track, "Walls Of Silence", inspired by David Nicholls bestselling novel "One Day", and the age old premise that London (or any large city) offers opportunities, all you need is belief and ability to succeed. Unfortunately real life can be quite different. A song of dreams that are unfulfilled, of falling between the cracks and not being noticed, of slipping away with barely a whisper. Yet the delivery of the song in the hands and voice of Lorraine Millington takes on its own life as it lifts and soothes, resonating harmony.
Soaring violins from Kelly Jakubowski and Vincent Imbert complement perfectly Jeremy Millington's piano as "Exile" adds neo-classical tones whilst exploring the situation in oppressive states such as Russia and their treatment of artists such as Pussy Riot "Dare you dare to sing out? So Loud".
"Fairy Lights" addresses the effect of Colonialism and the greed of an Empire . Protest music then that is silky smooth, a little like that for which Chumbawamba became renowned for.
And beauty there is in "Moon Song" as a picture is painted of a memory held behind your eyes. Whilst "The Cloud" examines depression from a personal point of view and our attempts at controlling our feelings and focusing on the bright path out of the darkness and gloom "All I can do, is keep my head clear of the butterflies, that swarm all around me, and form a cloud of confusion" .
The depth of individual feelings and subject matter really stand out along with that rare ability to make you stop and consider day to day objects from a new and valid viewpoint. Take "Monochrome" for example, inspired by a Canadian woman (Carol Spurdens), which reflects on the closeness of the lives, laughs, loves and aspirations of folk separated by centuries as they peer out of sepia photographs.
The single, "The Rest Of Time", I approached having been vaguely aware that the catchy song had made the iTunes charts on the back of "collecting" over 2,000 voices and little else. The song commentary told much more about the awful tragedy of deaths due to blood cancers.
In Jeremys 'own words "2014 marked a decade since I lost my Dad Graham to a particularly nasty strain of Leukaemia. If not a cure, my Dad could have had more time had medics been able to find a bone marrow donor match for his tissue type, which they failed to do despite scouring national and international donor databases. Ten years later, medical science has moved on greatly and today becoming a donor is far easier, but little has changed in terms of the number of available donors, which is crazy and tragic in equal measure. Anyone healthy and fulfilling the prescribed age requirements can be a donor - and very easily, without any cost or fear of significant disruption to daily life, which most people don't realise. In the vast majority of cases, no major operation is needed, and donating bone marrow or stem cells is barely more of a life imposition than giving blood. Most potential donors don't know they have it in their grasp to save a life, and meanwhile, as the song says, so many are waiting, not daring to hope that someone might gift them time.
It's powerful heartfelt and moving stuff, if you want to know more http://deletebloodcancer.org.uk is the place to be.
"Payback" reflects that doing "good" doesn't guarantee you happiness or health; there is not always a payback, nor should we expect one. Yet should that prevent us making random acts of kindness? I hope not. The song stops short of suggesting we are the legacy of our tragedies and asking whether we rise or fall is up to us.
"Stand By" closes the album, it's a gorgeous slice of accapella concerning the terrible scenes in Syria although it could equally apply to many more scenarios. " We cannot stand by, While the suits all take sides, Debating how strongly to criticise, The powers look on, Denounce and meanwhile, Leave a dictator to murder in style, I won't stand by, I won't stand by".Jeremy explains the thoughts behind the song. "What the world is crying out for is a quiet, united, powerful, peaceful movement where we reflect on what is wrong with the world as a whole, and then choose to live our lives in such a way that none of our day to day actions supports states with terrible human rights records or those that prop them up. We could really make a difference. But we need to care enough. The movement would need to be whole-hearted and that would involve each of us making compromises to the lives to which we've become accustomed, in which our eating, shopping, travel and general comforts of life ultimately depend on the suffering of others. We'd need to live in a truly ethical way, and for many of us that is very sadly a step too far.”
It's an impressive thought provoking closure to" Lion and Butterflies" an album of sublime music and rock solid social commentary. One to beg, steal or borrow.
Ian Cripps
FATEA - Fatea


What you might not know about music critics’ jobs is that the work can be boring, if not down right disheartening. Go ahead and roll your eyes now and grumble about first-world problems. Yes, critics have posh jobs.
Still it’s tiresome to hear artists’ sermonize about “organic” processes that lead them to give voice to the downtrodden, while many offerings – especially from U.S. artists but, as an American, I’m biased – sound as if they rolled off an assembly line sporting all the individuality of Henry Ford’s original Model T.
It’s difficult not to become jaded.
Then you happen across alluring British folk-classical-New Age fusion – in this case The Portraits’ newest album Lions And Butterflies – and you experience a burst of joy similar to the ones you experienced as a kid when you first discovered artists whose music spoke directly to your heart.
What sets Lions And Butterflies – which will be released on October 2nd – apart is not just the delicate blend of folk, jazz and classical sounds or the rhapsodic melding of the voices of husband-and-wife duo Jeremy and Lorraine Millington.
The Portraits’ music is powerful because it springs from deeply, reflective individual musings on a wide spectrum of conditions. One look at the artists’ extensive song commentary proves the point.
Songs take shape around such divergent topics as work by novelist David Nicholls, reflections on the underlying meanings possible in the South African nightscape, and the overwhelming sorrow that likely consumed Bob Geldof when his daughter Peaches died.
Powerful stuff.
Perhaps the duo’s meticulous examination and presentation of their ruminations on life’s condition isn’t surprising when you consider the passion they brought to recording the single ‘The Rest of Time,’ which spotlights the tragedy of deaths due to blood cancers. Rather than call on celebrities for a poppy, ‘We Are the World’-reminiscent project, the duo recorded voices of 2,000 people across the U.K., and released a song so catchy that it charted on iTunes.
What makes The Portrait’s music stand out, though, is that it shape shifts (with apologies to Robert Plant) into whatever state the listener chooses.
Yes, ‘Walls of Silence,’ the Nicholls-inspired piece, is about the seeming futility of succeeding in London and other creative mega cities, but it’s also a soothing mid-tempo rollick. And while ‘Exile’ may be written as commentary on the state of Russia during the past few decades, it’s easy to close your eyes and drift into the delicate harmonies that soar over the violin and soft percussion.
You can focus on the smart discussion about class commentary on ‘Small but Strong,’ as a fervent call-to-arms but it’s also a soulful, mid-tempo mix of classical and folk.
Whether you choose to absorb The Portraits’ musical messages or simply let the elegant but accessible tapestry of guitar, violin, cello, upright bass, and other instrumentation mix with silky vocals that envelope you is your choice.
But Lions And Butterflies, proves that music is not dead, as Sinead O’Connor and others lament. It just needs to be championed.
Nancy Dunham - Folking


Lions and Butterflies is the new 11-track album from husband and wife alt-folk duo Jeremy and Lorraine Millington. The real strength and beauty of 'Lions and Butterflies' is in its meaningful, heartful lyrics and strong sense of melody, it's an album which has been lovingly crafted and one that demands repeated plays. The album has the recurring themes of the struggle of individuals and the dominance of greater powers beyond their control, living in the moment and treasuring it and human connections both past and present.
The Portraits have produced the album entirely by themselves, favouring recording in vans, backstage at gigs, a ferry, on laptops and even iPhones. "Our music takes us on the road constantly" says Lorriane "so it made sense for us to record our album on the move. Beautiful strings reverberate with the sounds of our lives, from the birds outside the window, to door bells - you have to listen closely but they are there. The new album is a heartful musical snapshot of who we are". The only time in the studio was used during the final mastering at London's 'Close to the Edge' facility with renowned producer Jon Astly (Eric Clapton, Deborah Harry).
The sublime Walls of Silence starts the album with a song based on the novel 'One Day' by David Nicholls. The creative female leading character Emma comes to London full of bright ideas and buzzing with plans to conquer the city. Fast foward in time to Emma reflecting on how her dreams were smothered by the Capital. London is a place where millions come to seek their fortune, but only a very few create enough noise to cut through the hoards of similarly aspirational people who are also trying to make their mark. Sadly, so many fantastically creative people end up quietly slipping out through the back door unnoticed.....with unfulfilled dreams and aspirations. The track really resonated with us here at LCM, far to many very talented people are going unnoticed without the recognition they deserve. This was the reason we started LCM. "But now I sit a cell of anonymity....in four grey walls of silence....never mind missing me...never mind mouning....I know you'll bearly notice when I go".
Exile examines the recent events surrounding freedom of thought and expression in Russia, including the imprisonment of Russia rock band Pussy Riot and state sponsored murder. The song champions those still singing in the shadows, those who are quietly taken out when we are all facing the other way. It's a place where thinking the wrong thoughts can land you in prison for a very long time. "I can hear her singing in the shadows.....dreams of running to excile.....but outside these walls come tumbling down".
Fairy Lights is based on a flight Jeremy and Lorraine took to South Africa. As the plane flew across several North Eastern African nations, Jerermy ponders whether these were street lights or fires from the wars and conflict in Africa. Do the problems of Africa stem from it's colonial past? "Wars, fronts, rival airs, so far from our ancestors cares.....divide and rule, run away.....live to fight another day" "We'd take the lions share, let the rest disintegrate, ours is the wealth and power and divine right. We imagined away the fires that we laid, from right up here, I'd swear they're fairy lights."
Moon Song is about their baby son seeing the full moon for the first time and being transfixed. It was a perfect moment as the moonlight reflected on this fancinated young child. It was a moment that would never happen again. We are all wrapped up in the busy lives we lead and these special moments are joyous, something to be captured in our memories rather than in pictures on smartphones and camera's. "Living for the moment is fabulous, but incredibly hard to do as well."
The Cloud deals with the stuggles of anxiety and depressive thoughts. It's a metaphor for how Jeremy describes his feeling after an attack of the 'blues' or 'blacks'. As Jeremy says himself "I hope this song reaches others who may be in the cloud right now - there are always routes back to the light". "All I can do is keep my head clear of butterflies that swarm around me and form a cloud of confusion and wonder, wonder why"
Monochrome was inspired by a lovely Canadian lady Carol Spurdans as part of The Portraits 'Friday Songs' project. Carol was reflecting on her trips to Europe where she walked the cobbled streets and viewed the architecture, landscapes and sunsets that have remained unchanged for centuries. We are on the same wheel of life that none of us can chose to jump off and one day too we will be a small part of his history. We are not to far removed from our ancestors as some may feel looking at the faded monochrome images in photo albums and history books. With shared fears and loves, hope for the future and great moments of humour and despair. If it weren't for the century or more dividing us, we might even have been friends.
With it's African influences and rythm The Rest of Time was a project to record 2000 voices around the country to save lives lost to blood cancer. The song enjoyed widespread media coverage and secure an iTunes chart position in January 2015. "So many awaiting daring not to hope that someone might gift them time. Would you put yourself out for someone you don't know? Sell a day of comfort and purchase a life"
The piano and string section led Payback is a reflection on the whole idea that life is ultimately a random series of events unconnected to one another and uninfluenced by one another. Being good to others of course has huge value and is vital to the inner workings of society and human relationships. But we're mistaken if we believe that doing good will in turn protect us from harm, as tragically, life doesn't work that way.
Nostalgia carries the feeling of trying to change or relive the past but realising that is futile. It is never too late to change direction and follow your dreams and not dwell on the past.
Small but Strong is a song for the 'underdog', those in society who have no power, no voice and are not really loved. Power predominates in the hands of those who have the means to buy their way to success. "A mile above a murder of suits, put a value on love as power pollutes. Small but strong I have no control and all I ask is my share. I beg them, trust me to know what's right the too high and mighty to care."
The original idea of the a capella harmony led Stand By grew out of the terrible scenes in Syria 2012 when a leader appeared immune to the pictures of the torture and murder of his own people, whilst he stubbornly clung to power. Dictators and despots are often supported by the Superpowers and their past actions. As the international community stands by ordinary people suffer. We could really make a difference, but we need to care enough. - Laurel Canyon


Calling themselves an ‘independent alternative folk band’ The Portraits, release their 'home-made' album ‘Lions And Butterflies’ on 2nd October 2015. Apparently recorded in vans, backstage at gigs, on a ferry, laptops and iPhones with the only studio time being the final mastering. So what do you get ‘Lions And Butterflies’? A diverse collection of individually shaped songs ranging across observations both personal and public to examine the extent of regret, the persistence of memory, changing direction and caring enough to make a difference; you also get thoughtful harmonies wound around sensitive instrumentation and subtle melodies.
For those that don’t know them, The Portraits are husband and wife duo, Lorraine Reilly Millingtonand Jeremy Millingtonwho maintain: “Our music takes us on the road constantly, so it made sense for us to record our album on the move. Beautiful strings reverberate with the sounds of our lives, from birds outside the window, to door bells - you have to listen closely, but they are there. The new album is a heartfelt musical snapshot of who we are.”
Ultimately, this is an album of hope. Although building that most enduring human force involves The Portraits hitting out with lyrics that expose some our race’s more undesirable traits - even so ‘Lions And Butterflies’ engenders a feeling of optimism and expectation. I liked this album and you will too – prime tracks: ‘Walls of Silence’, ‘Fairy Lights’, ‘The Rest of Time’ and ‘Small But Strong’.
‘Lions And Butterflies’ features Lorraine Reilly Millington (vocals, guitar, percussion) Jeremy Millington (vocals, piano, percussion, synthesizer) with help across selected tracks from Vincent Imbert (violin, vocals) Kelly Jakubowski (violin) Astrid Baty (cello, vocals) Pete Tapner (bass guitar) David Naylor (tabla) Clara and Euan Millington (additional vocals) and ‘2000 voices’ (additional vocals).
Website: www.theportraitsmusic.com
Review: Charlie Elland - FolkWords


Discography

ALBUMS
Lions And Butterflies (2015)
Life In Sepia (2013)
Counterbalance (2012)
The Blushing Of A World In White (2010)
Timescape (2008)
Kin (2006)

SINGLES
Moon Song (2015)
Walls Of Silence (2015)
The Rest Of Time (2014)
Small World Anthem (2013)
Daisy Chain (2012)

Photos

Bio

Anglo-Irish alt-folk duo The Portraits, aka husband and wife songwriters Jeremy and Lorraine Millington from Bristol and Galway respectively, reached the iTunes chart in January 2015 with their charity single The Rest Of Time, championed by BBC local radio, Radio 2 and 6 Music and featuring the voices of 2000 people recorded across the UK during 2014 all singing to save lives lost to blood cancers, with each contributor credited on the final record.

The Portraits' decade long journey has seen the former secondary school teachers travel from intimate café concerts in western France, where they first honed their storytelling songwriting style, to playing some of the UK's biggest acoustic music events.

2015 saw The Portraits playing at Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festival and releasing their critically acclaimed album Lions and Butterflies on 2nd October. Their sound is a warm fusion of folk, music theatre, jazz and classical styles with beautiful harmonies and their material is strongly influenced by their own experiences of travelling the world and encountering its forgotten corners.

Band Members