Stef Conner: Riddle Songs

This is an album of new music with very old words -- a concept album with a difference: a personal vision of a world just out of reach. Its music and its stories, its seasons and its creatures are addressed or conjured up in hymns, spells, and that most Anglo-Saxon of poetic forms – the riddle. Conner’s settings draw on English folksong, medieval music scholarship and a range of unlikelier inspirations to make something entirely her own. In around half the tracks she duets with early-music specialist Hanna Marti, both of them thrillingly poised between creation and rediscovery. In between come impressive choral set-pieces, while elsewhere Conner is alone, accompanying herself on a strummed lyre. At the album’s heart is an intimate communion with our ideas of the past, of distance and of nearness, of knowledge and enduring mystery.

No songs in Old English have survived from the period in which the language was originally used. And yet what does survive of Anglo-Saxon culture – preserved in written texts or unearthed by archaeologists – presents a compelling, if tantalisingly incomplete, picture of a society in which the creative impulse was central. For singer and composer Stef Conner, this incompleteness is a challenge … to feats of imaginative daring which are also acts of informed historical sympathy.


Recording of the Month

"This mesmerising album from the British singer and composer is the perfect companion for a long winter’s evening, and springs surprises at every turn. The spare beauty of the Rune Poems for upper voices and Conner’s solos to her own lyre accompaniment are interspersed with starkly powerful contributions from vocal ensemble Everlasting Voices, and it’s all wonderfully captured by Delphian’s engineers – close your eyes and you’ll be transported to a candlelit crypt on a chilly Northern night"

"beguiling ... there is compelling charm in this music that stems from Conner’s own self-belief in her self-confessed passions"

"Stef Conner has quietly carved out a niche for herself, one seemingly borne out of personal enthusiasm and intellectual curiosity. She similarly seeks to forge new music from ancient materials ... Riddle Songs is a delight. It’s as novel and refreshing as the texts are ancient and enchanting. Performances and sound are exemplary"


read the full review here

Release Date: 23 October 2020

Catalogue Number: DCD34227

Recorded from 30 July to 1 August 2019 and on 20 December 2019 in Phipps Hall, University of Huddersfield

Producer/Engineer (except tracks 11, 16, 18): Paul Baxter

Engineer (tracks 11, 16, 18): Rupert Till

24-bit digital editing: Paul Baxter & Matthew Swan

24-bit digital mastering: Paul Baxter



Featured video


Stef Conner performs night-bard

Filmed in Edinburgh's Vaults, deep underneath the Old Town, Stef Conner performs one of her own songs from her debut album Riddle Songs

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