Hastings-based alternative folk group 23 Fields release second album

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Hastings-based alternative folk group 23 Fields – lining up as Louise Driver, Jason M Smith and Step Adams – have released their second album To Follow This Years Fashion.

Folk, roots, Americana, love, life and nonsense are all on display throughout the 13-track album that sees 23 Fields lay themselves bare, says Step, a former A&E nurse who now runs his own private clinic.

“The music is difficult to fit into a genre. We are a three-piece and it's a bit Americana and a bit rootsy and a bit alternative. One write-up we had said that there was a pop element to it and maybe there is in the odd one or two tracks.”

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Step had been playing gigs for years, and Lou, an A&E doctor, lives at the top of his road. They started making music and Jason, Step’s barber, joined them: “He wanted to collaborate. That was February last year and we just developed our own sound from there. The first album came out last year and we said it was just life and nonsense on there. There are a couple of tracks that are quite politically driven. I was quite cranky with the world at the time. And there are a couple of tracks on there from years ago that sound like that they've got a meaning but probably haven't!”

23 Fields - left to right - Louise Driver, Jason M Smith, Step Adams (contributed pic)23 Fields - left to right - Louise Driver, Jason M Smith, Step Adams (contributed pic)
23 Fields - left to right - Louise Driver, Jason M Smith, Step Adams (contributed pic)

And now comes the new album: “It was a lot easier to do. I started writing some stuff for the new one and my partner gave me four hours in a studio. I had seven or eight songs and I thought I needed some more and then suddenly I had 13. And we just recorded it. We did all 13 songs in three and a half hours. Tempers were getting a bit frayed by the end! But we managed to do it and we sent it off to the producer who did wonders with it.

“I think it just shows that we could do it, that we could work together and I think the album is actually more solid than the first album. On the first album there isn't a great deal of production on there and there are a couple of songs where you can almost hear paper turning over and I quite like the quirkiness of that but I do think that this second album sounds a lot more together.”

Now the challenge is just to get it out there and to get themselves better known and to get more gigs: “It's about building it up. It's all original music rather than covers so it's not that easy getting gigs but we've got a couple of venues that are more supportive.”

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The album’s lead single is Berlin which Step describes as a “powerful yet jaunty track that balances acoustic with hints of electric piano, infectiously rhythmic percussion duets with tender long-drawn violin amongst raspy vocals. The band’s early pub-busking days can be heard in Berlin. It conjures a warm atmosphere of bar revelry.”

23 Fields gigs coming up include Jenny Lind, Hastings, May 17; Kings Head, Battle, June 14; The Dolphin Inn, Hastings, September 15; ELF (every last Friday), Battle, September 29; and The Plough (Westhill), Hastings October 20.

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