Recent winner of the Rising Star accolade in the 2020 Folking Awards, Burnell is an extraordinary talent, seemingly with his own musical time machine – able to teleport listeners back into a rich, retro past or into a bold, other-worldly future.
A highly original songwriter and multi-instrumentalist – from his trademark Hammond organ to acoustic guitar, accordion, mellotron, synths and a Steinway grand – the York based performer is adept at conjuring up vast, layered theatrical soundscapes and moodscapes as well as simpler, starker, equally captivating arrangements.
Together with his six-piece band he has become a festival favourite with a growing reputation as one of the most exciting and innovative acts on the scene, never afraid to push the boundaries.
Born in the Haute-Savoie in France, Burnell’s music has been described as ‘folk baroque ‘n’ roll’. It is a heady brew from a melting pot of genres – English folk, prog, contemporary classical and vintage pop-rock.
Joshua started making waves with his 2016 ‘fantasy epic’ ‘Into the Green’. The ambitious ‘Seasons’ project saw him release a folk-rock arrangement of a traditional song or tune every week for a year leading to the critically acclaimed ‘Songs from the Seasons’ album in 2018 which he followed up a year later with folk-rock odyssey ‘The Road to Horn Fair’.
‘Flowers Where The Horses Sleep’ sees him returning to original songwriting. He says: “Having dedicated the past three years to rearranging traditional material, I wanted to build on that experience to produce an album of folk songs for a modern audience.”
Recorded and mixed just before the world went into Covid-19 lockdown, the 10-track album has a pertinent theme. Says Josh: “The songs were all inspired by people, past and present and explore humankind’s remarkable ability to find beauty, even in the hardest of times.”
He alighted on the album title after listening to a moving podcast in a series called Family Ghosts. A Japanese-American woman who had been interned in a U.S. concentration camp during WW2 told how the prisoners, forced to live in stables, grew flowers to bring a touch of beauty into the ugly reality of their days.
With all music and lyrics written and arranged by Burnell, he is joined by Frances Sladen on lead and backing vocals, Nathan Greaves on electric guitar, Katriona Gilmore on fiddle and mandolin , Paul Young on melodeon, Oliver Whitehouse on electric bass, Tom Mason on electric and upright bass and Edward Simpson, who also mixed the album, on bass drum.
Pre-order the album: https://www.joshuaburnell.co.uk/shop