This new collaboration between pianist, composer and arranger, Kate Williams, and singer/lyricist Georgia Mancio, is actually credited to Kate Williams’ Four Plus Three meets Georgia Mancio. Four Plus Three, for those not familiar, is Kate’s regular trio, who are comprised of Oli Hayhurst on bass and David Ingamells on drums, plus a string quartet. Kate’s band caused quite a stir with their self-titled debut album in 2016, which combined her fine piano playing, elegant arrangements and some delightful compositions.
The collaboration with Georgia Mancio felt like a obvious match. The two are long-standing friends who had worked together a number of times over the years. Moreover, Georgia has gone from strength-to-strength as a lyricist, as demonstrated by her fine album with Alan Broadbent (Songbook, from 2017).
The new album, Finding Home, is centered around three songs based on Georgia’s work with refugees, written to tunes composed by Kate Williams. The first of these, entitled The Last Boy On Earth, features a moving and though-provoking lyric, whilst We Walk (Slow Down) is based on stories told to Georgia over the last few years by those who made the perilous journey to Europe.
Perhaps the strongest of the three is the title track, Finding Home, which is spoken, rather than sung; a bold move, which pays off, and works surprisingly well.
There are three other new, jointly-composed tunes. One For The Bees opens the album, and raises questions about our place in the world. Halfway works less well, in my view – and may have worked better as an instrumental – but Play, which brings the album to a close – is just gorgeous.
In between, there are a few standards and covers, including the excellent Caminando, Caminando, by Chilean songwriter and activist, Victor Jara. This tune features Kate’s father, John Williams, on guitar, and is one of the album’s many highlights.
There are also a couple of instrumental pieces by Kate’s Four Plus Three. Both were lovely compositions, but I particularly enjoyed The Key, which featured Marie Schreer on solo violin and again, a guest appearance by John Williams.
Last, but not least, the albums also features Tell The River, another piece written by Georgia Mancio and Alan Broadbent, this time featuring Kate Williams on piano.
The album really is a lovely package, too, featuring original artwork by Alban Low, photographs by Carl Hyde, and a lyric sheet. Everything one might have expected from this collaboration, and more besides.
The album is released on June 1st. You can listen to a preview here.