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Hope Valley

Written: May 2016
Recorded: March 2018

Credits: James Armstrong (bass), Ford Collier (tin whistle), Benjamin Jackson (cello), Liam Johnson (guitar, piano)


Photo: Hope Valley on the day I made the climb up the cliffside and started writing the piece.

The story of Hope Valley goes back to my student days at university. On a whim, I decided to take a solo trip up to the Peak District with my guitar. I went to a spot that I had been once before that involved a long climb up essentially a cliff face. There was the main path that led gently to the summit but I opted for the more adventurous route of finding my own path. So with my guitar, I climbed up the cliff face to a spot that was cut off from everybody else. The view was spectacular and the silence was deeply satisfying.


I sat for a while in silence just taking in the moment. There were birds building their nests next to me and one or two passers-by on the ground every now and then. At one point, an aeroplane (or possibly a glider) flew through the valley at a lower altitude that I was sat. Feeling inspired, I took out the guitar and started to play. The main melodies and ideas were flowing like rivers. Adapting my tuning to accommodate them, I eventually found the perfect tuning in CGDEBD with the droning E string in the mid-range and the deeply resonant C string for added earthiness.

I took what seemed like a finished piece home with me where I was greeted by the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This inspired me to write an equally hectic and unforgiving back half for the piece with uneven time signatures and angry stabs. Once the piece was finished, I was lucky enough to perform the piece as part of a folk-fusion trio with Ford Collier and Jonny Poole as part of my music course. This sewed the seeds for the full arrangement that appears in the album.

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