Listen: Straw Bear – “The Land Witch”

31 Oct

Straw Bear The Land Witch

It’s Halloween, which means that across this fair isle and beyond people will be dressing up as slutty pumpkins and preparing for the walk of shame tomorrow morning, having no doubt got down and dirty to some day-appropriate tracks like this one and this one (other novelty songs are available).

While Straw Bear’s latest track is not Halloween specific, nor a novelty song, it does have ‘witch’ in the title and they are named after a pagan festival, so it feels appropriate to post it today. In fact, rather than make us think of trick or treating or getting drunk while wearing a sheet over our heads (wooo-ooooh), “The Land Witch” randomly made us think of Steeleye Span and the ‘ugliest witch in the north country’ (we blame Alphabet Bands Sr for introducing us to that one when we were too young to know any better) despite not sounding that much like it at all (it’s less overtly folky for a start)

It’s not based on an old ballad either, rather a misheard remark from lyricist Ian Ray’s nan when he was a kid. God knows what she actually said but Ray was convinced she heard her tell his Dad there was a Land Witch living in the woods. It didn’t take long for this child’s fertile imagination to create a horrific nightmare about a ‘cannibalistic old hag’ waiting patiently to steal any poor child who dared venture into the woods. Now, as an adult, and no longer afraid of the mythical land Witch (though we bet he is a little – we’re still scarred by Alphabet Bands Sr scaring the bejeezus out of us as a little’un with a tale of abducting witches, a bamboo stick and a bedroom window) he has taken those imaginings and turned them into a delightfully evocative folk-rock song.

Like a collection of wandering minstrels, the Straw Bear gents set about telling the tale of the terrible witch and her evil doings in a track that is alive and crackling like fire. It spits out embers of beats and strings and calls to you to pause and take in its wild natural beauty. Hypnotic flames twist and lick the night sky, no doubt as the Land Witch herself stalks ever nearer to your distracted body, waiting to make her move…

Happy Halloween everyone!

Straw Bear’s debut album, ‘Black Bank’ is out now and available to buy here.


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