NEM#72: Sarah McQuaid Kills Her Darlings

Sarah has recorded five solo albums since 1997, starting with traditional folk songs, sometimes guitar instrumentals, and now focusing on originals that mix British and American folk in a style influenced by Joni Mitchell, among others. She has lately pared back her songwriting to ensure that every note counts.

We discuss the title track and “The Silence above Us” from If We Dig Any Deeper It Could Get Dangerous (2018) and “Hardwick’s Lofty Towers” from The Plum Tree and the Rose (2012). Closing song: “Yellowstone” from Walking into White (2015). Opening instrumental: “The Day of Wrath, That Day,” also from the new album. For more, see

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NEM #27: Peter Knight (Steeleye Span): Free Fiddlin’ in the Face of Death

Peter’s violin was a key part of Steeleye Span’s updating of traditional folk songs from 1971–2013. His original songs were among the group’s most heartfelt. We talk about being creative with traditional music, authenticity, and finally getting the hang of songwriting late in his career.

We discuss “We Shall Wear Midnight” from Steeleye Span’s Wintersmith (2013 with Terry Pratchett), “Bows of London” from Gigspanner’s Layers of Ages (2015), and “From a Lullaby Kiss” (2014 solo). End song: “Who Told the Butcher” from Bedlam Born (2000 Steeleye); intro: “The Butterfly” from Lipreading the Poet (2008 Gigspanner).

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