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Earthling Recordings

ESKA

by ESKA

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1.
THIS IS HOW A GARDEN GROWS Nations build their citadels, world spins like a carousel Merry goes around again, history repeats itself Lovers speak in poetry, prophets use allegory Where one reaps another sows Singing, this is how a garden grows Throw caution to the wind, throw it all away And leave your past behind you When it only seeks to remind you where you failed We’ll reap what we’ve sown And we’ll be singing, this is how a garden grows This is how a garden grows Blessing and anathema - everything we’re handed down The truth is here, for what it’s worth, deep beneath the undergrowth Lovers speak in poetry, this one’s painting melodies Where one reaps another sows Singing, this is how a garden grows This is how a garden grows Throw caution to the wind, throw it all away And leave your past behind you When it only seeks to remind you that you didn’t do well at all We’ll reap when we’ve grown And we’ll be singing, this is how a garden grows Singing with the angels Situations, folks and things All of it, we’ll leave behind Singing... When it’s over, said and done Got to lay it all down
2.
Gatekeeper 04:59
GATEKEEPER Gatekeeper, where there’s no wise leader There be no brighter lighter But you keep letting it in Gatekeeper, here is your read minder There is a kinder teacher But will you let them in? Gatekeeper, there’ll be no rhyme reason Hopeful the right season comes so we can begin again We begin again; to begin we begin again and then Gatekeeper, surely a strange kinder helper to come later But that’s not the journey’s end Just an ending but not the journey’s end yet Like a city without a wall you are open to anything Lose the government of your soul ‘Cos you’re so open to everything Well, don’t go listening to the voice of a stranger Don’t you go listening to that voice Like a city without a wall you are open to everything See you flirting in the danger zone Trying to be all things to all men Won’t you take your stand when you get hurt? Haven’t learnt your lesson when you feel it burn? Fired up? It should get you fired up Still it’s aching? Fire up! Got to get to you - get fired on all cylinders, yeah! You should be a kinder teacher to me But will you let me in? No Will you let me in? No Don’t fade away Why you have to fade away? Why you gonna have to fade away? You don’t have to fade away That’s not how the story was supposed to end Let’s begin again, let’s start again You don’t have to fade away, away
3.
My Rock of Ages too many nights I’ve tried Fighting sleep with a crowded mind Several days, all through the night I’m sure I’ve heard the dark angels hum With the melody groaning I couldn’t keep my rest With the melody strong, nearly made me lose my breath Early in the morning, meeting You in the Garden The look of love and lust was in her eyes, yes Hid away when she knew her shame But I too was naked in that rising sun And You still hear me now? I wish I feared You more than this fear inside of me Then I’ll be a witness; can I be a witness to someone? There’s no darkness dark enough to hide From You, my Rock of Ages And would You be all I need? Yes I believe it, despite this constant flight in me I’m asking, would You be all I need? Though the melody is growing strong Thieves coming out in the night And they’ve been trying, trying to take me out before my time They call You Rock of Ages All Consuming Fire, all consuming fire A thousand times that I am falling Will be a thousand times that I will rise And You hear me now? I wish I feared You more than this fear inside I see Then I’d take a good look I’d take a good look in Your eyes as You see through mine Ooh, You’re my Rock of Ages Ooh, my rock, my right, my anchor holding
4.
Boundaries 03:54
BOUNDARIES You can count, days will come without a doubt Still working it out that everyone has their boundaries So it goes, some grow scares while some grow cold ‘Cos it shows on everyone there are boundaries Days are fading out, leaving it in doubt How bold this love is when we meet drought Somewhere in the middle Good to go, the faster lane now seems so slow Put on hold while all of it’s moving sideways Very strange, you hardly give yourself away But when it leaves me feeling like the outsider, courage vanishes It taught us many things when we began So hard to start again I’ll meet you at your border It hurts to think I’d even have to tell you that Yet you hold my secrets safe and guarded And that is precious in its own way Yeah, we share a kind of common language That’s helped us swallow all that’s tasted bitter No, we won’t get parked in old illusions, turn away revelation That’s a part of our design Maybe like Joshua playing battle drums And singing those walls down, I’m up for a fight, yeah! I’m going to tear down all the walls The battle will keep me at your border The margin’s never wide between wrong and right And that is why we’ll have to compromise Not all things are black and white
5.
SHE’S IN THE FLOWERS Slipped underground Hers was a battle that laid her to rest And when her body returned to the land Seeds of her memory grew up from the earth She’s been gone a long, long time It’s all right now, she’s in the flowers Queen of the shades Seasons return though his memory fades She is the bloom that he grips in his hands Who knew the boy but did not know the man She knew the boy but did not see the man She’s been gone a long, long time It’s all right now, she’s in the flowers She’s been gone a long, long time It’s all right now, she’s in the flowers And he says, ‘I wonder, wonder if you’d be proud Of the man, the man that I’ve become I wonder, if you were with me now’ She’s in the flowers She’s in the flowers It’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right She’s in the flowers It’s all right, it’s all right
6.
SHADES OF BLUE Pretty darling Make me wait, then you call, you’re still home, you forget - will you admit that This is only The beginning of ending a sad situation that we’ve been in? Keep trying to tell me something Well, your actions have spoken This heart can be broken but you’ll never know Think it over What this love will endure – you’re all I know I want What am I supposed to do? Baby, baby, baby, baby I’m just another shade of blue Baby, baby, baby, baby No matter how we try to Shake it baby, break it baby I’m just another shade of blue Baby, baby, baby, baby Pretty darling If it’s over then we’ve got to leave it and learn to let it go This is only ‘Cos it’s wrong to deceive, never knowing will only give me hope Keep trying to tell me something Well, it’s so to believe when the point that you’re making isn’t serious Think it over So I’ll have to tell the truth, this is too much What am I supposed to do? Baby, baby, baby, baby I’m just another shade of blue Baby, baby, baby, baby No matter how we try to Shake it baby, break it baby I’m just another shade of blue Baby, baby, baby, baby Can’t shake this feeling, shake this feeling down Can’t shake this feeling, can’t shake this feeling You’re all I know I want Take stock of what we have got Constantly asking you if you’re leaving me Are you listening? Cos if you’re listening You will know that I don’t want to be blue Unconditional - it’s supposed to be We’ll regret it if we don’t stop to think And take stock of what we have got Constantly asking you if you’re leaving me Are you listening? … You’re all I know I want How can you leave me lonely, low? Still be so lonely, lonely, solo? How can I be so lonely, low? Still be so lonely, lonely in your arms?
7.
HEROES & VILLAINS Tongues on fire, speak up ‘cos the prophets seem to have gone to sleep Make a war on terror? Well, terror is taking its war out on me Oh, why you gonna go and put the fuel in to the middle of the fire? It’s ablaze and the temperature is slowly getting higher We can talk about the heroes and the villains Here until the day is almost over We can hear about the heroes and the villains Here until the day is almost over Pins and needles shooting up and down all over me Feels like true conviction, still it’s so hard to know what to believe It’s a game of smoke and mirrors all around me There’s a mountain here by me Do you know the heroes and the villains in this town? Do you, do you? There’s a mountain here by me We can talk about the heroes and the villains Talk until the day is nearly over We can hear about the heroes and the villains Talk until the day is almost over We can talk about, talk about, talk But the day is almost over We can talk about the heroes and the villains Talk until the day is nearly over We can hear about the heroes and the villains Here until the day is almost over We can hear them, we can talk about them
8.
TO BE REMEMBERED One afternoon in London you walked me through your garden And showed those trees you planted for every love you had All would love to be remembered How we all would love to be remembered I texted you on my journey, what tree would you plant for me? You wrote back, I’d be a weeping willow A melancholy tree but the roots grow deep underneath Because boy, she’s a heavy feeder All would love to be remembered How we all would love to be remembered Well, I’m rooted by a river to gaze at my reflection Find it hard to let things go but I’ve finally turned the page Be glad you’re not alone And although you’re not with me, so glad that we have grown And I’m not ashamed to say, it is you in these words and these melodies Well, I hope that it meets your approval All would love to be remembered All would love to be remembered How we all would love to be remembered
9.
Dear Evelyn 02:01
10.
So Long Eddy 02:41
SO LONG EDDY Like passing clouds drifting over Are the many faces we meet along the way? Start to feel like you are young And the colours are in bloom How they fade too soon In a breath and then it’s gone So long strangers, lovers and friends Like clouds passing over Heaven knows sky’s going to change And only burns deep and rich as the sun When you have loved, yes you have loved Keep that feeling when you’re young And the colours start to bloom How they fade too soon In a breath and then it’s gone So long strangers, lovers and friends Like clouds drifting over Heaven knows skies always change And only burns deep and rich as the sun When you have loved, yes you have loved Like passing clouds drifting over Are the many faces we meet along the way?

about

“Only a couple of times a decade does a new artist come along who so impresses that I find myself getting excited about what they’ll do next, even as I’m still assimilating their debut… Touching, powerful, experimental and sensuous – you could pick just about any positive adjective and it would apply.” The Independent on Sunday

“Masterfully created with classical finesse, the skilled musicianship Eska exhibits on her self-titled debut album feels unparalleled.” Complex

“One of those albums that only gets better with repeated listens…a future classic” TwistedSoul

“One of the best female singers in the UK is also one of music’s best kept secrets this year” Fame Magazine

Once upon a time, there was a first-generation British girl from Zimbabwe. Her family had moved over to an ordinary part of South London when she was a toddler. She went through life feeling different, out-of-place, someone other. When she grew up, she thought she couldn't have kids; last year, she became mother to a daughter that arrived three months early, and was small enough to fit into the palm of her hand. Baby Wonder is six months old now, and her mother, Eska, is back at work. It's going to be a big year for both of them.

But Eska's story is much bigger than that. Once upon a time, she was also a girl whose parents became a primary school teacher and a midwife. She took violin lessons in school, and was so good she got a scholarship to a local conservatoire. Her talents for singing, arranging and writing got well-known in the industry; she left it to work on her own rich, warm, ambitious, genre-hopping music. Close your eyes and it sounds like it was beamed down from the more lavish days of the '70s; it's not retro, but adventurous, experimenting with structures and lyrics, big ideas and sounds, like many popular female musicians did then, like her heroes Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell. And then comes a voice to stop time...characterful, keening, intimate, extraordinary. This is all Eska too.

There are debut albums that shudder, jump, crackle, and flame from the speakers, that are the products of a mind, heart, and talent that has something – that has everything – to say. Eska's ESKA, her first shot into the world, is one of them.

Eska Mtungwazi grew up in Lewisham, her tiny ears opening to music very early. Music was at home in the songs her parents would sing, and on Sunday afternoons, when Eska's father brought out his vinyl. Bob James, The Crusaders, Madonna, Ahmal Jamad, Wet Wet Wet...his tastes were eclectic, but not precious, an approach that rubbed off onto his daughter; her early loves were the soundtracks from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Star Wars, Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, and a cassette recording of Duke Ellington's memorial service off the TV. Songs of all stripes and shades jumped and swirled around her childhood, each one as exciting as the last, all of them from the same world. It was OK to love them all equally, too; she knew that. She especially loved records with lots of players on them, like Quincy Jones' Sounds and Stuff Like That, with Herbie Hancock on piano and Chaka Khan at the microphone.

As she got older, Eska threw herself into music. There was the madrigal group in school, the choir she started running at her church, and that school violin...although she knows she was an oddity up the road in fancy Blackheath. That scholarship allowed her to be different though, she knows now, allowed her to be something other than everyone else.

After a sensible maths degree, music became Eska's life. She never had to look for a gig; people always heard about her, and came to her. She sang with Grace Jones, The Cinematic Orchestra, Ty, Tony Allen, people who knew she could turn her hand to jazz, folk, soul, world music, to anything. Eska was proud to be diverse, but she always did what she was asked; as a consequence, she never knew truly what she wanted to do.

When someone called her the Queen Of Soul in print – a name didn't mean anything to her – a touchpaper was lit. She stepped back, asked herself what she sounded like, and she couldn't hear a note. She went back to her roots, started studying the records she loved...and slowly, Eska started to emerge.

The list of artists she pored over shudder, jump, crackle and flame from her now. We've already mentioned Kate and Joni, and their templates for complex, but memorable, organic, glowing songwriting. Then comes Captain Beefheart. Ella Fitzgerald. Joanna Newsom's Ys. British prog groups like Gentle Giant and early Genesis. Vocal groups like The Free Design and Singers Unlimited. Choral music. Appalachian folk. Eska started talking about her ideas with electronic musician and composer Matthew Herbert, whose Big Band she sang with, and who encouraged her to record. They put together a huge band of talented instrumentalists – one that Quincy Jones would have been proud of, she laughs – and took over Dollis Hill's Fishmarket Studios for ten days. She hadn't sent the band her songs, though, not even sketches – a decision that may have made lesser musicians get up and walk, she knows now, but these people of calibre stayed. They responded to her intricate, hook-filled compositions with the sensitivity, beauty and dynamism she was hoping for. They're also qualities these songs demand.

Finished in later sessions with producer Louis “Slipperz” Hackett and all-round renaissance man Dave Okumu (singer/guitarist in Mercury nominees The Invisible, and producer for Jessie Ware), Eska presents an extraordinary soundworld, alive with inventive, beguiling instrumentation. There's the water-filled glass bottles, broomstick and wire on a tea-chest on the languorous This Is How A Garden Grows. There's the prepared piano and percussive radiator on the glorious Gatekeeper. There's tubular bells, Speak and Spell machines, vibraphones, handclaps rushing through the air.... and Eska herself playing violin, cello, clarinet, harmonium, cuatro, skank organ, a glockenspiel. On the wordless, a cappella Dear Evelyn, she multi-tracks her voice to make all the harmonies. Add reggae, folk and classical rhythms, and you have her influences all together. On this record, you could say, Eska found herself.

After she crafted her mesmerising musical landscape – the kind of place where complicated time signatures couch radio-friendly songs, like the stunning Shades Of Blue – Eska then added her bold, dauntless lyrics. Ideas from nature and mythology surge through them: from Joseph Campbell's bible about narratives in literature, The Hero With A Thousand Faces (Gatekeeper); the queen of the underworld Persephone (She's In The Flowers); a heroine on a crusade to tear down walls around her heart like Joshua in the Battle of Jericho (Boundaries). Personal stories simmer too: a farewell from a friend to his ex-girlfriend (So Long, Eddy), a thank you to Eska's sister (Dear Evelyn), the death of another friend's mother. Here were individual worlds within bigger worlds, small moments made universal, and a record reminding you of the connections, the miracles, of if all.
Last summer, as the album was getting ready to be born, someone else came along, too. Wonder's arrival last July was after her mother's very short, very difficult pregnancy; Eska had to make decisions in Wonder's care that could have ended her life. She then spent months looking after her baby in hospital, at which point something clicked. This mother now knew how precious life really was – Wonder made her see that with clarity. That meant her record, her life-force, had to breathe by itself too. Wonder is now six months and well, and going on tour with her mother this summer, Eska's sister by their side. It's going to be a big year for all of them.

Eska's ESKA is a record full of wonder in itself. It is a record to pore over for hours, days, weeks, a lifetime. It is a place where you can lose yourself in the details, and Eska's rich, warm ambition. It is a record made by an ordinary woman with an extraordinary talent, spreading her wings at last, letting go, taking flight.

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released April 27, 2015

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ESKA UK

ESKA is the most talked about, revered, internationally known singer you've never heard of! Releasing her first EP in 2013, her critically acclaimed debut solo album is OUT NOW!

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