The Plum Tree and The Rose

by Sarah McQuaid

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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    CD package includes full colour 16-page booklet (original artwork and design by Mary Guinan) with lyrics and background information on the songs. If you like, Sarah can sign the CD with a personal message to you or the intended recipient, if it's going to be a gift – just indicate how and to whom you'd like it to be signed in the "Leave comment for the seller" link on the checkout page.

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  • Full Digital Discography

    Get all 7 Sarah McQuaid releases available on Bandcamp and save 25%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, Walking Into White, The Silver Lining - 3 Track Single, The Plum Tree and The Rose, The Sun Goes On Rising - 3 Track Single, When Two Lovers Meet, and I Won’t Go Home ’Til Morning. , and , .

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1.
Oh my pretty little bird You’ve got fragile little bones The beauty in your eyes Leaves me terrified So much danger in this world I’m scared to let you out alone Scared to let you spread your baby wings And take to flight But though my belly made you I can’t hold you, I can’t cage you I can’t lay my fears to rest But I can try To lift you up and let you fly Let you fly Since the day you were born I’ve tried to keep you from harm Tried to teach you to protect yourself From evil things As you set out on your way There’s so much more I want to say Before you flutter to the edge And start to beat your wings But I know that I can’t save you From whatever fate awaits you Be it bitterness or joy And I will try To lift you up and let you fly Let you fly And if your feathers fail you I’ll try to catch you as you fall But when I set you free And you fly away from me I know you might not come back at all Lift you up and let you fly Let you fly Let you fly Sweet bird I love you so Can’t bear to let you go Little girl of mine It’s hard but I will try To let you fly
2.
The boy to whom I first was wed Was dead within the year I cried many an angry tear In widow’s weeds I pleaded for my dower I wasn’t thinking then of Hardwick’s lofty towers Of Hardwick’s lofty towers Another match was found for me And he was wise and kind Strong in body and in mind He loved me well, with children I did flower I was on my way to Hardwick’s lofty towers To Hardwick’s lofty towers A widow I became once more Before I’d reached my prime Yet again cruel Fate was kind As sweet William’s wife my life’s happiest hours Were spent far away from Hardwick’s lofty towers From Hardwick’s lofty towers A dreadful thing then came to pass Alas, he was struck down And though another match I found The joy I gained did wane and turn sour I consoled myself with Hardwick’s lofty towers With Hardwick’s lofty towers Bess of Hardwick is my name My fame is ensured By my works and by my words I built my castle tall for all to admire I have left my soul in Hardwick’s lofty towers In Hardwick’s lofty towers I have carved my name in golden letters in the sky So that those who follow after me Will know that I was born and died
3.
Solid Air 05:03
4.
Kenilworth 03:02
How may a subject court his queen How may he make her see That she must be his lady I’ve made you a garden I am your Eyes Your bonny Robin Here are sweetly shadowed paths of grass and sand Where you may walk and take your ease Here are herbs and gillyflowers Whose scent perfumes and purifies the air you breathe Here is a fountain made from white Carrara marble Carved with strange and stirring scenes Here is a birdhouse set with gemstones Where canaries sing and golden feathers gleam All for you All for you I’ve made you a garden I am your Eyes Your bonny Robin How may a subject court his queen How may he make her see That she must be his lady
5.
In Derby Cathedral I read through the names on the wall And I think of them all I think of them all Say a prayer for the souls of the faithful departed Who’ve walked through these halls Say a prayer for them all Say a prayer for them all So many who laboured To praise their creator With towers of glass, wood and stone Where I wander alone Soul, flesh and bone In Derby Cathedral It’s peaceful, but not in my mind No peace can I find No peace can I find So many people In Derby Cathedral Soul, flesh and bone Glass, wood and stone In Derby Cathedral I read through the names on the wall And I think of them all I think of them all So many people In Derby Cathedral Soul, flesh and bone Glass, wood and stone In Derby Cathedral I found my last home My soul free to roam My name carved in stone Listen to the bells Ringing out for me
6.
I hear the wolf at the door I’ve seen his face before He’s hungry and I’m tired Can’t keep him out much more Through a chink in the blind I watch him pace a line Better step back from the window He’s only biding his time Spring follows winter Sun follows shower Things will get better If only I can hold that wolf at bay Drive him away Cos the sun goes on rising every day I’m keeping the faith I’m still in the race I’m marking down the time Till I can get to a better place Spring follows winter Sun follows shower Things will get better If only I can hold that wolf at bay Drive him away Cos the sun goes on rising every day Seagulls fly in cloudy skies Morning comes and amber turns to grey Cos the sun goes on rising every day And the time will come when I don’t feel this way Seagulls fly in cloudy skies Morning comes and amber turns to grey The sun goes on rising every day
7.
S’anc fui belha ni prezada Ar sui d’aut en bas tornada Qu’az un vilan sui donada Tot per sa gran manentia E murria S’ieu fin amic non avia Cuy disses mo marrimen E guaita plazen Que mi fes son d’alba Ja per guap ni per menassa Que mos mals maritz me fassa No mudarai qu’ieu no jassa Ab mon amic tro al dia Quar seria Desconoissens vilania Qui's partria malamen Son amic valen De si, tro en l’alba If before I was beautiful and esteemed Now I am turned from high to low For I am given to a vulgar man All because of his great wealth And I would die If I did not have a noble lover To whom I could tell my unhappiness And a pleasing watchman To sound the dawn for me Never for any gibes or threats That my wicked husband may make to me Will I cease lying With my lover until daylight For it would be Ungrateful and base If anyone wickedly sent away Their worthy lover Before the dawn
8.
Can she excuse my wrongs with Virtue’s cloak Shall I call her good when she proves unkind Are those clear fires which vanish into smoke Must I praise the leaves where no fruit I find No no: where shadows do for bodies stand Thou may’st be abus’d if thy sight be dim Cold love is like to words written on sand Or to bubbles which on the water swim Wilt thou be thus abused still Seeing that she will right thee never If thou can’st not o’ercome her will Thy love will be thus fruitless ever Was I so base, that I might not aspire Unto those high joys which she holds from me As they are high, so high is my desire If she this deny, what can granted be If she will yield to that which Reason is, It is Reason’s will that Love should be just Dear, make me happy still by granting this Or cut off delays if that I die must Better a thousand times to die Than for to live thus still tormented Dear, but remember it was I Who for thy sake did die contented
9.
New oysters, new oysters, new oysters new Have you any wood to cleave (repeat) What kitchen stuff have ye maids (repeat)
10.
So Much Rain 04:10
The rain falls in sheets on the pavement outside The car tyres are splashing the passers-by This town was always grey, and it’s greyer tonight The wind sings a desolate lullaby So much rain That I can’t see through I thought we’d be together when the season changed Spring was the promise I made to you You said you’d wait for better weather I hear your voice in the rain You told me you’d be back again When the flowers came up again Well, here they are and where are you The street lights shine bright on the shop windowpane My ghostly reflection thrown back at me again The blossoms on the cherry trees hang ragged in the rain And I’ve only myself to blame So much rain That I can’t see through I thought we’d be together when the season changed Spring was the promise I made to you You said you’d wait for better weather I hear your voice in the rain You told me you’d be back again When the flowers came up again Well, here they are and where are you
11.
I didn’t know that kiss was coming Guess I could have started running Soon as I saw what you were thinking Serves me right I shouldn’t have been drinking But anyway, you did So let’s consider What are we going to do about it This little thing that you and me have started Tonight is not enough I might just fall in love with you What are we going to do I wouldn’t say that this was unexpected If you hadn’t kissed me I’d regret it Cos when you leaned my way I couldn’t turn my face from you What are we going to do This could be the edge of something Dangerous, too But right now it’s all new I don’t know what way to play it In the light of day we might not make it I don’t know if it’s real I don’t know how to deal with you What are we going to do What are we going to do about it This little thing that you and me have started Tonight is not enough I might just fall in love with you What are we going to do
12.
The yellow rose you planted has survived Battered by the wind but still alive The leaves are curled and brown, the flowers are few And every bud that opens makes me think of you Think of you The plum tree in the orchard’s doing fine Our damson brandy’s turning out all right It’s cloudy and it’s strong, but it’ll do And every drop I swallow makes me think of you Think of you A little boy is running down the lane He’s got your big grey eyes, he’s got your name His trouser legs are dripping wet with dew And every time I look at him I think of you Think of you Oh, the years pass ever faster And there are no ready answers To the questions we keep asking On the nature of our souls But this I know Yours is in the little boy The plum tree and the rose The plum tree and the rose The plum tree and the rose
13.
This earth of ours is beautiful The sky, the rocks, the trees The birds and the animals, rivers and seas In gratitude I sing to you For I am thankful, I am thankful I am thankful in my soul

about

The Plum Tree and the Rose is the third album by Sarah McQuaid, a gifted and captivating performer whose warm, haunting alto is delicately cradled by her “sparkling guitar” (Sing Out!). She is both song crafter and song collector, equally at home with traditional Irish and Appalachian folk songs, Elizabethan ballads and 1930s jazz numbers.

Her musical output is a direct and unfolding reflection of her own eclectic background: Sarah was born in Spain, raised in Chicago, holds dual US and Irish citizenship, and currently lives in rural England. While the genre, era and geographical location of her songs may change, at their core is a musician who has soaked it all in – and, luckily for us, is able to eloquently express the stories she’s gathered.

Produced by Gerry O’Beirne (Midnight Well, Patrick Street, Sharon Shannon Band), engineered by Trevor Hutchinson (Waterboys, Lúnasa) and released on the Chicago-based Waterbug Records label, The Plum Tree and the Rose opens with “Lift You Up and Let You Fly,” one of nine originals on this thirteen-song album. Warm strains from Bill Blackmore’s flugelhorn envelop a tender love letter from mother to daughter. Up next is “Hardwick’s Lofty Towers,” Sarah’s ode to the remarkable woman who in 1590 built the magnificent Hardwick Hall near Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

“Hardwick’s Lofty Towers” introduces a set of sister themes – spiritual questioning and the relationship between soul and place – that inspired a trio of originals dedicated to this topic: title track “The Plum Tree and the Rose” (track 12), “In Derby Cathedral” (track 5) and “Kenilworth” (track 4). “Living in the UK, I’m constantly struck by the powerful imprint made on the landscape here by thousands of years of human habitation,” Sarah explains. “And I think we all wonder at times about the big questions – why are we here, where are we going, does any part of us remain after we’ve gone. I’ve tried to address that in these songs.”

A folk album is not complete without comment on our current socio-political climate, and Sarah does excellent justice to the global economic downturn on “The Sun Goes on Rising” (co-written with producer Gerry O’Beirne). As percussionist Liam Bradley’s shuffling snare sets a tone of relentless perseverance, the fear of debt and poverty is embodied in the proverbial lurking “wolf at the door” – but, as the chorus points out, there’s hope for the patient. Also co-authored with O’Beirne are “So Much Rain,” a rumination on lost love and the changing of seasons, with Sarah’s plangent guitar and string-like vocal harmonies embellished by gossamer piano backing from Rod McVey, and “What Are We Going To Do,” an old-fashioned ‘first kiss’ song in the Golden Age style of Rodgers & Hart, George Gershwin and Cole Porter.

Sarah’s cover of “Solid Air,” the late John Martyn’s tribute to Nick Drake, is delivered here as a soulful duet, this time with Bill Blackmore on trumpet; other surprises include “S’Anc Fuy Belha Ni Prezada,” a 13th century “alba” or dawn song sung in Old Occitan, a sparse arrangement for voice and DADGAD-tuned guitar of Elizabethan composer John Dowland’s “Can She Excuse My Wrongs,” and “New Oysters New,” a three-part canon published in 1609 by Thomas Ravenscroft, featuring guest vocalists Niamh Parsons and Tom Barry. The album closes with Sarah’s original six-part canon of Thanksgiving, “In Gratitude I Sing.”

credits

released March 5, 2012

Produced by Gerry O’Beirne
Engineered by Trevor Hutchinson
Recorded and mixed at Marguerite Studios, Glasnevin, Dublin
Mastered by Sander van der Heide at Polyhymnia International, Baarn, The Netherlands
Design and original cover artwork by Mary Guinan
Photography by Colm Henry

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Sarah McQuaid Penzance, UK

Sarah McQuaid is a singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist, based in the UK and touring internationally. See www.sarahmcquaid.com for more info.

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