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The St Buryan Sessions

by Sarah McQuaid

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  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Included with all downloads is a 12-page PDF containing all 8 pages of the CD booklet plus an additional 4 panels from the digifile, including notes, credits, photographs and Sarah’s original artwork.
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  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Limited edition double LP on heavyweight 180g blue vinyl in a numbered gatefold sleeve with notes, credits, photographs and Sarah’s original artwork. If you like, Sarah can sign the sleeve with a personal message to you or the intended recipient – just indicate how and to whom you’d like it to be signed using the “Include a message” link on the checkout page (or the contact link at right).

    ADDITIONAL NOTE RE. POSTAGE COSTS: Sadly, postage rates have risen astronomically in recent years – particularly for the USA, which is now classed by Royal Mail in a price band of its own: it costs £5 more to send an LP to the USA than to Canada or Mexico! You can save on postage by ordering more than one item at a time, as the base postage rate is determined by the item with the highest shipping cost. You’ll only be charged the incremental rate for any additional items.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The St Buryan Sessions via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 30 days
    edition of 300 

      £30 GBP or more 

     

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Packaged in a six-panel cardboard digifile, double-walled for durability and printed in full colour, with two end tube pockets: one to hold the CD and the other to hold the full colour 8-page booklet with notes, credits, photographs and Sarah’s original artwork. If you like, Sarah can sign the CD with a personal message to you or the intended recipient – just indicate how and to whom you’d like it to be signed using the “Include a message” link on the checkout page (or the contact link at right).

    NOTE RE. POSTAGE COSTS: Sadly, postage rates have risen astronomically in recent years – particularly for the USA, which is now classed by Royal Mail in a price band of its own: it costs £5 more to send an LP to the USA than to Canada or Mexico! You can save on postage by ordering more than one item at a time, as the base postage rate is determined by the item with the highest shipping cost. You’ll only be charged the incremental rate for any additional items.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The St Buryan Sessions via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 30 days

      £12 GBP or more 

     

  • T-Shirt/Apparel

    Heavyweight 100% cotton T-shirt screen-printed with Sarah’s original album cover artwork in white ink on navy blue fabric, in sizes ranging from Small to XXL. If you’re ordering more than one T-shirt, specify the size for additional shirts using the “Include a message” link on the checkout page (or the contact link at right).

    NOTE RE. POSTAGE COSTS: Sadly, postage rates have risen astronomically in recent years – particularly for the USA, which is now classed by Royal Mail in a price band of its own: it costs £5 more to send an LP to the USA than to Canada or Mexico! You can save on postage by ordering more than one item at a time, as the base postage rate is determined by the item with the highest shipping cost. You’ll only be charged the incremental rate for any additional items.
    ships out within 30 days

      £15 GBP or more 

     

  • Bag

    Tote bag screen-printed with Sarah’s original artwork in navy blue ink on natural 140gsm 100% cotton fabric. Tote bag dimensions are 38cm x 41cm — perfect for carrying your shopping … or your LPs!

    NOTE RE. POSTAGE COSTS: Sadly, postage rates have risen astronomically in recent years – particularly for the USA, which is now classed by Royal Mail in a price band of its own: it costs £5 more to send an LP to the USA than to Canada or Mexico! You can save on postage by ordering more than one item at a time, as the base postage rate is determined by the item with the highest shipping cost. You’ll only be charged the incremental rate for any additional items.
    ships out within 30 days
    4 remaining

      £8 GBP or more 

     

  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Four sets of test pressings of the double LP, on heavyweight 180g black vinyl, in white sleeves which can be personalised with hand-drawn versions of Sarah’s original album artwork and/or individual track artwork (as shown on the videos and in the CD booklet and LP jacket), handwritten lyrics/credits and/or a personal message – just let us know your preference using the “Include a message” link on the checkout page (or the contact link at right).

    There are only four of these, and when they’re gone, they’re gone – so get your order in quickly, and please consider adding an extra contribution if you can!

    NOTE RE. POSTAGE COSTS: Sadly, postage rates have risen astronomically in recent years – particularly for the USA, which is now classed by Royal Mail in a price band of its own: it costs £5 more to send an LP to the USA than to Canada or Mexico! You can save on postage by ordering more than one item at a time, as the base postage rate is determined by the item with the highest shipping cost. You’ll only be charged the incremental rate for any additional items.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The St Buryan Sessions via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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    ships out within 30 days
    edition of 4  3 remaining

      £80 GBP or more 

     

  • Full Digital Discography

    Purchasable with gift card

      £40.50 GBP or more (25% OFF)

     

  • St Buryan Sessions Tea Towel (Dish Towel)

    Tea towel (or dish towel, if you’re reading this in North America) screen-printed with Sarah’s original artwork in navy blue ink on natural 170gsm 100% cotton fabric. Tea towel dimensions are 50cm x 70cm.

    NOTE RE. POSTAGE COSTS: Sadly, postage rates have risen astronomically in recent years – particularly for the USA, which is now classed by Royal Mail in a price band of its own: it costs £5 more to send an LP to the USA than to Canada or Mexico! You can save on postage by ordering more than one item at a time, as the base postage rate is determined by the item with the highest shipping cost. You’ll only be charged the incremental rate for any additional items.

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  • Ultra-Limited Edition Gold G7th Capo Bundle
    Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Huge thanks to the wonderful people at G7th The Capo Company for kindly donating three 18kt gold plated Newport capos (just like the one Sarah’s been using on stage for years – check out the videos to see it in action!) engraved by the G7th Custom Shop with Sarah’s original artwork and logo from the St Buryan Sessions album cover.

    Included in this bundle are a copy of either the CD or the limited-edition Double LP (please use the “Include a message” link on the checkout page to specify which you’d prefer); plus a St Buryan Sessions T-shirt; plus a 16GB engraved wooden USB stick with the St Buryan Sessions concert film & documentary. See separate listings for full descriptions of individual items.

    If you like, Sarah can sign the CD or Double LP with a personal message to you or the intended recipient – just indicate how and to whom you’d like it to be signed using the “Include a message” link on the checkout page (or the contact link at right).

    There are only three of these, so get ’em while they’re hot!

    There's a 10% discount valid until October 1 on all Sarah’s Bandcamp merch (including back catalog) for everyone who supports her music with a monthly donation of £5+ on Patreon or via PayPal: just visit sarahmcquaid.com and click “Donate” or “Become a patron”.

    NOTE RE. POSTAGE COSTS: Sadly, postage rates have risen astronomically in recent years – particularly for the USA, which is now classed by Royal Mail in a price band of its own: it costs £5 more to send an LP to the USA than to Canada or Mexico! As explained above, you can save on postage by ordering more than one item at a time.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The St Buryan Sessions via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ... more

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1.
The sweetness of the berry Doesn’t take away the pain Of the briar when it stabs you In the hand But the power of your craving For the fruit among the thorns Is driving you to risk Another chance Sweetness and pain Summer sun And autumn rain The bramble does not seek to harm It merely seeks to live It injures without malice Or intention There’s no question of forgiveness No apology, no pardon For minor wounds too numerous To mention Sweetness and pain Winter winds Return again Sharp black thorns Concealed and smoothed By softly falling snow Drops of blood Like bright red flowers This hurt will pass Just let it go Sweetness and pain Shake it off And start again
2.
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
3.
There’s a boy in the garden With a shovel and a spade He’s going to dig himself a hole That’s the biggest ever made Boy in the garden Shovel and spade Biggest hole Ever made I say I know you’re having fun I don’t want to make a fuss But if you dig any deeper It could get dangerous  Now we’re drilling through the earth Building pressure all the time Splitting cracks in the rock To free the power inside Drilling through the earth Pressure all the time Cracks in the rock Power inside Some things are better left buried Down under the crust And if we dig any deeper It could get dangerous Put your shovel away Time to call it a day Sometimes the way to fix a problem Is to turn the pressure off Cos if you dig any deeper It could get dangerous  We’re bringing fire and flood And trembling ground See the pale horse Hear the trumpet sound Fire and flood Trembling ground Pale horse Trumpet sound I hope we can stop it But we need to hurry up Cos if we dig any deeper It could get dangerous  Dig any deeper It could get dangerous  Dig any deeper It could get dangerous
4.
The silence above us The comfort in darkness Pale clouds in a blanket of sky The light from my window The trees lost in shadow We’ll likely have frost later on tonight It’s cold, I should go back Inside, where I know that It’s warm if I sit near the fire And as I stand shivering The mist from my breathing Forms tendrils of smoke that drift lower and higher Orion the hunter is low in the sky The guiding star is blue I ask myself yet again What is this world coming to The silence above us The green earth beneath us Abounding with power and life The bushes are rustling The small birds are settling Hunkering down to be safe for the night Orion the hunter is low in the sky The guiding star is blue I ask myself yet again What is this world coming to As the night becomes colder and darker More stars will appear in the sky Tiny pinpoints of light Shining steady and bright The silence above us The comfort in darkness Pale clouds in a blanket of sky The light from my window The trees lost in shadow We’ll likely have frost later on tonight Orion the hunter is low in the sky The guiding star is blue I ask myself yet again What is this world coming to And what can we do
5.
There’s a sparrow at my window And he’s spoiling for a fight He’s attacking his reflection And he’s puffing out with pride He doesn’t see the cat who’s watching From the windowsill inside She stares at him intently With her gorgeous golden eyes While he flaps and struts and chatters In a futile exercise He can’t banish the invader  Through he tries and tries and tries He could have built himself a nest Instead of battling the stranger But the image in the windowpane  Is all that seems to matter It’s his enemy and nemesis To hate and fear forever The cat is plump and glossy She’s prepared to bide her time Until the sparrow falls exhausted To the ground And then she stands And stretches out her back And takes herself outside She pads across the grass to find him And she never makes a sound One sparrow down
6.
Charlie’s gone home now I drove him downtown and dropped him off at the station I’m sweeping the floors now Changing the sheets and organising the kitchen And the house is so quiet, it feels so strange Only one hour and everything’s changed It seems so empty I feel so alone It was a party that lasted a week and a half We played music together and we drank and we laughed And now it’s over ’Cause Charlie’s gone home He came here one evening I wasn’t expecting such a happy surprise With his jokes and his teasing He had me laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes And Charlie’s got a whole lot of stories to tell He has an endless supply and he tells them so well He’s had a wild life He likes to ramble and to roam He’s been filling my head up with the things that he’s seen The scrapes he’s got into and the places he’s been But now they’re fading ’Cause Charlie's gone home When Charlie is with me, my life is on hold He takes all my time, things get out of control And I should be relieved that I’m finally able to breathe again Charlie’s gone home now I drove him downtown and dropped him off at the station I’m sweeping the floors now Changing the sheets and organising the kitchen And the house is so quiet, it feels so strange Only one hour and everything’s changed It seems so empty I feel so alone It was a party that lasted a week and a half We played music together and we drank and we laughed And now it’s over ’Cause Charlie’s gone home
7.
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
8.
My son can’t sleep He’s ten years old He’s scared that Yellowstone will blow And when it does It could set off A mighty chain reaction Volcanos round the world exploding Darkened skies and lava flowing His mind won’t let it go He’s ten years old I try to tell him not to worry There’s no point in dwelling On the things we can’t control Especially when we’re ten years old I try to tell him how the chances Are so small that circumstances Will combine to trigger That eventuality And he looks back at me He says I know all that But even so My mind won’t let it go Well I’ve got worries Of my own Another simmering Yellowstone Beneath the earth Releasing spurts Each time the pressure rises I know I’m not the only one To fear the ground I tread upon Volcanos of all kinds Torment our minds Who am I to say don’t worry How can we help dwelling On the things we can’t control Even if we’re more than ten years old The sea of molten rock below us Haunts our dreams and undermines us Causing us to falter As we struggle on our way Just trying to live each day In hope that Yellowstone Won’t blow Let it go
9.
What are we doing here now What are we dreaming now Up and down the street  If we only had time If we only had one more day If we only had time Time to love How can we take this moment now And try to make it better now Then let it go If we only had time If we only had one more day If we only had time Time to love Time to love I woke up laughing I don’t know why To see you sleeping Beside me What are we doing here now What are we dreaming now Up and down the street
10.
11.
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
12.
13.
The tug of the moon Is slowing us down Drawing the tide Buckling the ground Little by little as centuries pass It stretches our days The years growing longer by such small degrees We don’t notice the change Until noon comes a moment too late So we make an adjustment in time At the end of the countdown Before Auld Lang Syne One second to add before midnight And then we all cheer With tears and with kisses We greet the new year While the moon passes over us Ever more distantly pulling away As we turn toward the sunrise And night becomes day We count up the lengthening hours That remain till the end comes too soon For an earth spinning under The tug of the moon
14.
15.
When I was a little girl tucked in my bed at night I’d have the door cracked open and I’d watch that thread of light I’d listen to my mother as she played her old guitar I’d say, do ‘Froggy Went A-Courtin’ for the next one She’d say all right, but now this has to be the last song Chorus: Are you still awake Go to sleep, child The sun is down, you’re safe and sound The sandman’s on his way Honey, close your eyes Time to be quiet now ’Til you wake up in the morning And start another day Years have passed and now I’m trying to learn some sweet old tune In the hall I’ve got the light on so it shines into your room You’re talking to your teddy bears and playing with your dolls You should have been asleep an hour ago I’m thinking Is it my mother’s voice or mine that I hear asking (Chorus) She left this world too soon to ever know you She never got to see your little face And I wish with all my heart That she’d lived long enough to hold you Long enough to kiss your cheek And stroke your head and say (Chorus) Froggy went a-courtin’ and he did ride, mm-hmm Froggy went a-courtin’ and he did ride Sword and pistol by his side, mm-hmm

about

Martin:
This project has its roots in a conversation that began years ago.

Recreating the magic of a live performance can be one of the most challenging aspects of studio recording. I say this not to negate the concept of a studio album. The time, energy and care that can be put into creating a beautiful, flawless product is invaluable and it would be foolish not to recognise that studio and live recordings are very different and equally valid. It’s just that some artists have a certain something that’s only truly apparent when you see them in concert.

Having toured with Sarah for over ten years, I had become increasingly aware that a transformation happened when she stepped on stage that had never been captured by myself or anyone else in studio. It’s something that came up in conversation occasionally and always led to the same conclusion: “We’d best make a live album.” Sarah was especially keen on the idea as many of her songs had evolved over time and developed new aspects and shades of meaning.

2020 was a packed year for touring: by early summer Sarah would have played 80-plus shows over four months. All we’d need was a venue and an audience, and we could catch her at the top of her game. The planning got as far as an initial meeting with filmmaker Mawgan Lewis, and then we headed over to Holland and Germany for a six-week tour.

At the very first show of that tour, we learned that the venue that was to host the final show had just cancelled a concert due to a localised spike in the “new virus” we’d been hearing about. I think we lasted almost two weeks before the whole thing fell apart. We rescheduled our ferries and made what seemed like a much longer journey home than normal.

With the musical world turning toward live-streaming and the chances of a concert that involved an audience growing ever more distant, The St Buryan Sessions was born.

We had one simple goal: to re-create what anyone would hear and see at a typical show. Of course, what we wouldn’t have was an audience, so we looked for key factors that would influence Sarah’s performance. We decided to use her local church, a space she’d been singing in as part of the choir ever since she moved to Cornwall. We set her up as if it were a regular gig: no flash studio mics, just the same touring PA and monitors she’d walked onstage to a thousand times, so it would be truly home territory. There was a set list and she was to play her set and we would record it.

There were a few concessions, such as toilet breaks and pauses between songs to move and reset cameras. I also placed ambient microphones around the space to capture the natural acoustic of a very special building — one that has possessed and informed the sound and feel of the entire album.

In some ways this is a “warts and all” recording: listen carefully and you can hear the squabbling swallows in the church porch, lorries passing by and even at one point somebody’s mobile phone, making it an even more authentic replication of a live concert. But for me, anyway, what was once just an idea has reaped rewards far beyond what I could have imagined.

Sarah:
I think Martin’s pretty much said it all; I’d just like to add a few words of background.

For the same fourteen years that I’ve been making music for a living, I’ve been living just outside the village of St Buryan, which takes its name from St Buriana, an Irish princess who came to Cornwall in the 6th century and established a hermitage here (there is speculation that her name derives from “Hiberiona” or “the Irish lady”; in the 12th century Exeter martryrology she is referred to as “St Berriona”).

In 1966 (the year I was born, as it happens), the great Cornish singer Brenda Wootton founded the Pipers Folk Club in St Buryan Village Hall; among its regulars were Michael Chapman, who produced my 2018 album If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous, as well as Ralph McTell, Martin Carthy and many equally illustrious others.

While the folk club was long gone by the time I moved here, it’s been my joy and privilege to be a member of the Pipers Choir, a community choir that, like the folk club, takes its name from The Pipers, a pair of standing stones just south of the village, which according to local legend were musicians turned to stone for playing on the Sabbath – and also of the choir of St Buryan’s lovely old church.

According to tradition, the Saxon King Athelstan of Wessex stopped to pray at St Buriana’s oratory on his way to the Scillies in AD 930, and vowed that if he succeeded in conquering the islands’ inhabitants he would build a new church in her honour. He kept his word, and a copy of his charter granting the land for the church is still held by the Exeter Episcopal Registry.

A pair of stone arches in the sanctuary’s north wall are all that remains of King Athelstan’s 10th century church; a new, larger church building was consecrated in 1238, but by the 15th century had fallen into such disrepair that the church again had to be rebuilt. Most of the current building dates from the late 15th or early 16th century, as does the glorious carved rood screen with its rich ornamentation of knotted vines, stags, hounds, serpents, birds, demons, other strange and fantastic fauna and even a unicorn fighting with a dragon.

I feel so lucky to have made my home in a place with such an incredible musical and historical legacy, and to have been able to record this album in such an inspiring setting. I’m infinitely grateful to Martin for spearheading the whole thing and making it happen, as well as to Canon Vanda Perrett and the St Buryan Parish Council, to the St Buryan Male Voice Choir for letting me use their magnificent grand piano, and most of all to the 184 individuals who contributed to my crowdfunding campaign — we couldn’t have done it without them.

I do hope you’ll also check out the beautiful videos of all 15 tracks made by Cornish filmmaker Mawgan Lewis of Purple Knif, with assistance from John Crooks on cameras.

Special thanks to my husband Feargal and our two children for their love and support.

credits

released October 15, 2021

Heartfelt thanks to the 184 individual contributors whose voluntary donations made this recording possible. Your kindness and generosity will not be forgotten.

Produced and recorded by Martin Stansbury
Mixed by Martin Stansbury at Cacophony Cottage Studio
Mastered by Stuart Bruce
Artwork by Sarah McQuaid
Graphic design by Mary Guinan
Photography by Mawgan Lewis (additional photography by Martin Stansbury and Sarah McQuaid)

Recorded live (with no audience due to COVID-19) on 1 July 2020 in St Buryan Church, Cornwall, England, by kind permission of Canon Vanda Perrett and the St Buryan Parish Council.

Many thanks to the St Buryan Male Voice Choir for generously allowing their Yamaha concert grand piano to be used for this recording. Sarah also plays:

Acoustic guitar by Andy Manson Custom Guitars with Elixir Medium Gauge Acoustic 80/20 Bronze strings with Nanoweb coating (.018 substituted for .017 on 2nd string), G7th Newport capo, Fishman Matrix pickup, Trace Elliot TAP-1 Acoustic Preamp.

Ibanez Artist electric guitar, kindly loaned by Michael Chapman, with Elixir Heavy Gauge Electric Nickel-Plated Steel strings with Nanoweb coating, custom preamp by Tom Oakes of Horrothia FX (Falmouth, Cornwall), Vox AV15 analog valve amp, Mooer Audio Trelicopter tremolo pedal, Donner Yellow Fall analog delay pedal.

Both guitars serviced and repaired by Julyan Wallis a.k.a. The Guitar Doctor (Penzance, Cornwall).

Audio/electronic equipment serviced and custom cables made by Russ Fletcher of RussAudio (Camborne, Cornwall).

1970s Premier Olympic floor tom drum, refurbished and maintained by Roger Luxton of Goatboy Studio (Wadebridge, Cornwall).

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about

Sarah McQuaid Penzance, UK

“One of the most instantly recognisable voices in current music … Shades of Joni Mitchell in a jam with Karen Carpenter and Lana Del Rey.” —Neil March, Trust The Doc

“Captivating, unorthodox songwriting … layered satin vocals ... enthralling, harrowing arrangements … a gateway into a true innovator’s soul.” —PopMatters

See sarahmcquaid.com/about for more info.
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