Folk duo O’Hooley & Tidow play Chiddingly Village Hall

O'Hooley & Tidow. Picture by Bryan Ledgard
O'Hooley & Tidow. Picture by Bryan Ledgard

Folk duo O’Hooley & Tidow play Chiddingly Village Hall, Church Lane, Lewes, on September 23 (7.30pm) on the back of a great summer and an even better reaction to their latest album.

Singer-songwriter Heidi Tidow performs and records with singer-songwriter and pianist Belinda O’Hooley, who was formerly a member of Rachel Unthank and the Winterset.

“We launched the album Shadows at the Cambridge Folk Festival at the end of July,” Heidi said. “And we have played in Belgium in a beautiful church, and we have played at Broadstairs Folk Festival.

“I think it has been one of the best summers we have had. Usually you are trying to move around in six inches of mud.

“The album was our fifth album. We brought the first album out in 2010. I don’t think of us as being particularly prolific, but that’s five albums in six years. And with each one we have always had something different going on. Each album is very individual, and each song is very individual. But I think with each album we are increasing in confidence, and we are always trying to improve our arrangements and our harmonies.

“The Hum was our big album a couple of years ago, and we worked with a big producer. It was an amazing experience. Each time we sent him through a song, he worked on it, and it was like getting a Christmas present when we got it back, the things he had done to it. He had ideas that he could do to the songs.

“But with this latest album, we felt we wanted to arrange it ourselves.”

A starting point was a superb Steinway at the Museum of Modern Art in Wales: “And that produced a very different feel to the album from the start. From there we just built it up with different musicians, and the whole thing happened organically. When you start an album, you never really know how it is going to turn out. You throw all the ingredients together and you put it in an oven and out comes the cake and you hope it tastes nice!

“A lot of people do have quite a clear picture of their album from the start, but we found it quite beautiful to let the album develop by itself. The core of the album is the Steinway, which has its own unique voice, and also my and Belinda’s harmonies. It has also got some lovely warm reverby guitar and a sprinkling of brass, but it still feels fairly stripped.

“And it has had a fabulous response. We got a five-star review in The Guardian. They only do one folk or world music album a week in The Guardian, and if you can get that review, it is great. It gives you something you can use for the publicity.”

As for what happens next, Heidi suspects solo projects might be calling for the two of them: “There might be a slight shift in the next couple of years. We love doing O’Hooley & Tidow together, and it is the core of what we do, but there are maybe one or two individual ideas that we want to be looking at.”

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