‘There is a depth to her distinct voice as there is to her writing, a tone that reaches beneath the surface.’ - Ange Hardy
‘A rare treat in the contemporary folk scene’ - Stephen Thomas, Folkroom Records
‘Wow. She’s incredible. A tremendously exciting artist, regardless of her age.’ - BBC Introducing
‘To say it’s an assured debut from Tilly Moses would be the understatement of the year. Fantastic debut album. Every track a winner’ - Stephen Foster, BBC Radio Suffolk
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Tilly Moses is a singer/songwriter and mandolin player, whose carefully crafted songs address subjects as diverse as climate change, gender inequality, disability ethics, love, and leaving home. While paying homage to tradition, her music pushes the boundaries of folk to create an exciting new sound, and her songs are delivered with an extraordinarily powerful, passionate vocal style, and a colourful stage presence.
After the enormous critical success of her first album in 2017, Tilly is back this year with a brand new album and national tour!
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‘Tilly possesses an uncanny ability to communicate her messages and narratives with total conviction and an immediacy and intellectual as well as emotional depth.’ - FATEA Magazine
‘Blazingly alight and far from adrift’ - Folk Radio UK
David Kidman - FATEA Magazine ‘Tilly Moses is a 19-year-old mandolin player and singer-songwriter, originally from Suffolk but now living in York – all the more surprising, then, that she’s thus far evaded my radar, especially since she’s been writing and performing since the age of 13. She released her debut EP, Painted Faces, a few years back – under the name of Tilly Dalglish; since then, I understand, she’s built a faithful following through her colourful stage presence and a succession of highly-rated appearances supporting the great and the good of the folk world. It’s all been excellent preparation for the eventual release of her first full-length album, Alight And Adrift, on which she’s joined by BBC Award winners Sam Kelly, James Delarre and Kit Downes as well as several other talented musicians (Finn Collinson, Kevin Duncan, Ginny Davis, Samuel McKie, Ellie West and Dave Gatward). It’s a tribute to the artistry and insight of her producer Kevin Duncan that Tilly’s voice and the delicate texture of her mandolin (and very occasional guitar) playing are given space to breathe and remain in a credible perspective within the total sound-picture. And of course, the mandolin is not the usual instrument of choice for the average guitar-toting s/s – so Tilly scores points for her enterprise right from the start.
Having said all that, I don’t want to give the impression that Tilly’s a wilful eccentric whose sole objective is to make an impact and defy s/s convention by showiness and flamboyance. This is far from the truth – as just one listen to this brilliant album will convince you. Tilly’s songs are masterpieces of emotional raw power, a quality that resides in the stripped-back nature of her writing and performing style – and all this despite some imaginative, often quite busy musical settings conjured specially for the album. For Tilly possesses an uncanny ability to communicate her messages and narratives with total conviction and an immediacy and intellectual as well as emotional depth.
Tilly’s debut album pushes the boundaries of folk almost subconsciously, and it’s no exaggeration to say that virtually every track boasts a different sound or arrangement, however distinctive be her vocal delivery and filigree mandolin playing. The opening track, the decidedly empowering and defiant mission-statement of Definitions, starts sparsely, even diffidently, then truly blossoms as the texture opens out with swooning cellos providing a curiously lush repeated figure. Water Man is a simple yet extremely poignant reflection on the idealism of romance, with some delicately judged harmonies from Sam Kelly (his full duet with Tilly on the touching love song Harbour is an album highlight, by the way). The personal battleground of Fear With Fire is stirringly set to a sweet-toned, fulsome Celtic-style backdrop featuring whistle, fiddle, bouzouki and harmonium. The desolation of Lonely Birds is characterised by bleak mandolin wingbeat-ripples, while Flatlands wistfully explores Tilly’s connections with her native fenland landscape. The eerie atmospherics of Ragdoll invoke a sort of cross between Lal Waterson and Rose Kemp, whereas the harmonium-backed Footprints (where Tilly reflects realistically on, and takes strange comfort from, our inevitable impermanence in the scheme of things here on earth) has an almost religious, eastern-hymnal aura. Album closer Whisky is an affectionate waltz-time portrait-cum-memoir of her collaborator Sam McKie. Tucked away in the running order close to the end of the album we find its lone traditional song, Hares On The Mountain, which is given an extraordinary brooding, weird psych-folk treatment replete with imaginative touches and a full-blown electric guitar solo: another disc highlight, although entirely different from the rest of the tracks.
The only song which I feel loses something (a little)in impact is Paper Conflicts, an important song within Tilly’s work which is here given a plain, rather too “grey” setting that, while ably supporting Tilly’s voice, seems (at least by comparison with the rest of the songs) a tad lacking in textural or melodic interest, which thus arguably underplays, even dilutes, the passion of its message.
All the lyrics are given on the superbly presented insert too. A great package that sets a high benchmark for Tilly in what looks like being an illustrious career on the fringes of folk. Her strong will and determination, backed by her serious talent, have clearly paid off on Alight And Adrift.
As a postscript, I’ve just discovered that four of the album’s songs (Paper Conflicts, Definitions, One Of Them and Fear With Fire) are also part of a conceptual set (songs of conflict) that Tilly and Sam McKie performed at last year’s Folk Festival East; this set is available separately through Tilly’s website, in the shape of an intimate, home-recorded “live demo” album (War In Words).’
Ange Hardy ‘There is a depth to her distant voice as there is to her writing, a tone that reaches beneath the surface. Tilly has set a very firm foundation with this album. With beautiful instrumentation and clever arrangements, a good mix of traditional and self-penned work and some prestigious guests, she is certainly making her intention for a long and prosperous folk career clear with this debut.’
Dai Jeffries - R&R Magazine ‘Tilly Moses is a young singer-songwriter who has come through the ranks by talent, hard work and maybe the bit of luck that everybody needs to produce a remarkably good debut album.
There’s a lot to like on ‘Alight & Adrift’. First off, there is Tilly’s voice; rich and flexible. I guess she’s a natural alto but she can growl a bit and move her range up for a pretty song like ‘Water Man’ or ‘Flatlands’. Then there is her gift for melody, something of a disappearing art these days, and I can hear hints of Vashti Bunyan in her writing.
Next, we must consider the variety of styles and arrangements. The opening track, ‘Definitions’, a song about not allowing yourself to be defined, is layered with strings for which we must thank Ginny Davis and James Delarre on cello and fiddle. ‘Lonely Birds’ is pared down to almost nothing except mandolin, while ‘One of Them’ is almost rocky.
Then are the songs. Most are original except for the traditional ‘Hares on the Mountain’ based on a harmonium drone and arranged by Tilly and Finn Collinson, and all have something to say. I offer ‘Paper Conflicts’ as a prime example. Tilly Moses is someone that we’ll hear a good deal more of.’
Kirsty Merryn ‘Tilly Moses celebrates traditional folk melodies and instrumentation, but her songwriting has an originality and maturity which results in a fresh and invigorating sound. Featuring the talents of many other gifted and respected musicians, her songs are beautifully written and arranged. Already established on the folk scene, her debut album will be a welcome sound for many, and great new discovery for many more. Tilly is a true talent.’
Mike Davies - Folk Radio UK ‘Just nineteen, born in Suffolk and now based in York, mandolinist and singer-songwriter Tilly Moses has been making music since she was thirteen, both supporting and playing with the likes of The Unthanks and the late Dave Swarbrick. Having released (under her given name as Tilly Dalglish) a debut EP back in 2014 and a conflict-themed live demo album with Sam McKie last year, she now returns with Alight & Adrift, her first album proper.
With the exception of the traditional Hares On The Mountain, a psych-folk arrangement by herself and Finn Collinson for bodhran, harmonium drone and recorder, all the material is self-penned. She draws on influences that range from The Guillemots and Damien Rice to Lisa Hannigan, Ida Wenhoe and Rachael Sermanni to craft a hypnotic dark pastoral folk web that belies her young years.
Along with Collinson, the album also features McKie on guitar, BBC Folk Award Winner Sam Kelly, Mercury Prize Nominee Kit Downes, Mawkin’s fiddle player James DeLarre, Ellie West providing whistles and Ginny Davis on cello, with songs that variously address mental illness, climate change, and gender politics.
Two numbers are revisited from the Painted Face EP with new recordings of Footprints, a drone-like number about impermanence leaving behind a legacy on which her pure vocals are accompanied by accordion, fiddle and harmonium, and relationship-themed Lonely Birds with its spare, plucked mandolin and Downes’ piano score.
There are also three studio versions of songs from War In Words. Recalling Thea Gilmore, the jauntily mid-tempo slightly gypsy rhythms of Paper Conflicts is about how we put short-term profits and gain before the consequences of climate change. While, with fiddle, bouzouki and whistles, Fear With Fire is a Celtic trad-flavoured number about overcoming anxiety and lack of confidence that ends in a lively jig. The third, with some strident bass, whistle and acoustic guitar work on the lengthy atmospheric instrumental intro, One of Them is a heady, rhythmically muscular call to not be one of those who look on in apathy at the poverty, starvation and suffering around them.
It’s a new number that opens the album, the plucked, spare Definitions a refusal, on behalf of all young women, to be pigeonholed by stereotyping, its line ‘I will always vote for hope’ sounding like something Corbyn might pick up on for the next election. Showcasing her mandolin work, Water Man is a dreamy but barbed song about needing to have a balance of the elements to sustain a relationship (‘He’s a spark, and I’m a flame, and I’ll burn us both down’), Sam Kelly duets on the melodically catchy and rather lovely Harbour, another song about sharing a life together, while, predominantly mandolin with cello arriving in the final stretch, Flatlands is basically a love letter to the fens and heaths of her childhood home.
The album enters its last lap with Ragdoll, all rippling guitar pattern and suitably ghostly atmospherics set to mental health themed lyrics about feeling like you’re coming apart at the seams, and ends with a shot of Whisky, an acoustic waltz time memoir of first meeting her collaborator and partner McKie that interpolates Collinson’s Bits and Pieces whistles and fiddle waltz.
With a solid reputation on the folk festival circuit and ringingly endorsed by Ange Hardy, blazingly alight and far from adrift, this should firmly plant her feet on the ladder to the genres upper rungs.’
Joe Knipe - Artree Tilly Moses has been performing her unique and powerful brand of folk music since she was just thirteen and with each and every moment since she first picked up a mandolin she has gained in skill, strength and popularity. This year the immensely talented young singer-songwriter will be releasing her album Alight and Adrift, an uncanny masterpiece that will shake you to the core.
Alight and Adrift begins like the glowing embers of a fire; soft and gently spreading before you in the darkness. As Moses’s opening song Definitions opens up around you, you become aware of the raw and crackling power that is housed within her vocals. Moses has a deep, resonant and eloquently tender voice that seems to float right through you. What’s astounding is the depth of power that she carries within her voice. To listen to Moses is akin to listening to a forest fire that has been captured and tamed. Like crackling flames, her voice flickers out into the world as powerful, emotional and raw as an act of God. The wealth of emotion she retains within her powerhouse voice allows her to project her stories up to the heavens while her intellectual and concise lyrics create a rich tapestry of songs that reach right down into the depths of your heart.
Besides her mesmerising skills as a singer and songwriter Moses is also a charming and talented young musician with a timeless quality to her work. Surrounding herself with a wealth of sounds atop her sweet mandolin melodies from across all areas of folk Alight and Adrift is a wonderful collective of sounds that takes Celtic infused tunes and melds them together with medieval qualities and contemporary tunes alike. This culminates in a stunning new amalgamation of sound that is seamless and ageless feeling to it. Trilling whistles, dancing fiddles, dextrous mandolin melodies, resonant cello harmonies and the vibrant backing of the hurdy gurdy all combine like fuel to the fire to create a series of songs that are nothing short of mesmerising. The careful way in which Moses has stitched her rich music together with her earnest and ardent voice as well as the intelligent and emotional delivery of her words goes on to create one of the most honest and passionate albums of the year.
Despite her young age Tilly Moses has already been plying her trade for years and has constantly taken every opportunity to further her own skill and dexterity as a musician. The immense power and passion behind Alight and Adrift is immeasurable and with this release Moses has cemented herself as a name to watch out for.
Allan Wilkinson - Northern Sky Magazine ‘This debut album by Tilly Moses, a young Suffolk-born, now York-based singer-songwriter/mandolin player, comes as a result of a lengthy teenage apprenticeship spent writing, performing, collaborating and recording in preparation for this moment. Tilly's penchant for theatrical hats and colourful garlands, her frequent exposure at festivals up and down the country and her seemingly beguiling nature have prepared her well for the release of these dozen songs, all of which show a marked maturity since we first heard some of them on stage or via YouTube videos over the last few years.
If her PAINTED FACES EP, recorded in her mid-teens, effectively got the ball rolling on her burgeoning recording career, then ALIGHT AND ADRIFT is poised to launch that career with more determination. Tilly's ethereal voice on such songs as Definitions, Paper Conflicts and Flatlands demonstrates strength and fragility in equal measure, whilst Harbour shows a mature approach to collaboration as she duets with the BBC Folk Award winner Sam Kelly. Accompanying herself on harmonium and shruti box, as well as her faithful soulmate, the mandolin, the song arrangements have a gentleness that focuses predominantly on her voice, with some empathetic playing from BBC Jazz Award Winner and Mercury Prize nominee Kit Downes, singer-songwriter Samuel McKie, recorder maestro Finn Collinson and Mawkin fiddler James Delarre.
All twelve songs are Tilly Moses originals apart from the traditional Hares on the Mountain, which is treated to a strong and determined arrangement here, yet you feel you have heard some of them before, such as Fear With Fire, delivered with military precision, which I feel I've been listening to for years. ALIGHT AND ADRIFT is a seriously good debut for a young performer who I'm sure you'll hear more about very soon.’