Shirley Collins: “I’m a conduit… I understand this music better than anybody else”

Returning after 38 years, the folk legend discusses her life and new album

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Shirley Collins discusses her new album, Lodestar, and her 38 years away from making music in the new issue of Uncut, dated November 2016 and out now.

Collins made a series of landmark records with the likes of Davy Graham, her sister Dolly Collins and the Albion Country Band before retiring from music with dysphonia, which left her unable to sing. Now, she’s returned to the studio with Lodestar.

“It’s still got an integrity and an intensity,” she tells Uncut, discussing her voice, “and I think more about the words now – perhaps they’ve just been in my head for a long time.

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“Having listened all my life to field recordings, I feel these people behind me. I’m responsible for those songs. I’m a conduit in a way. I just think I understand this music better than anybody else.”

On Lodestar, as with her earlier albums, Collins has concentrated purely on traditional material.

“English folk music says everything I need to say and in the most glorious way. I don’t listen to newly written stuff. There are people who call themselves folk singers and they write half their own stuff, and I think, why? When you’ve got thousands of songs from hundreds of years behind you which is real folk music, why are you writing something yourself?”

The November 2016 issue of Uncut is now on sale in the UK – featuring our cover story on The Specials, plus Bon Iver, Bob Weir, Shirley Collins, Conor Oberst, Peter Hook, Bad Company, Leonard Cohen, Muscle Shoals, Will Oldham, Oasis, Lou Reed, Otis Redding, Nina Simone, Frank Ocean, Michael Kiwanuka and more plus 140 reviews and our free 15-track CD

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