My stepmother slew me
My dear father ate me
Little brother whom I love
Sits below I sing above
Stick Stock Stone Dead
My stepmother was beautiful
She stole my father’s heart away
Wanted him all for herself
Wanted me out of the way
My little brother he was born
With hair as black as the carrion crow
My hair grew gold as summer corn
She grew bitter as the sloe
We played in the shade of the juniper tree
Like a raven and a dove
Stepmother’s heart twisted like bark
‘Til she had no room for love
‘Come in, come in my sweetie pies’
Night is nearing, better beware
But before you sleep, Susie Sweet
Let me comb your golden hair’
‘Your lovely locks are full of knots
They will break my ebony comb
Fetch father’s axe; a billet of wood
We’ll cut the knots the wind has blown’
That night my brother had a dream
A white bird crying scarlet tears
In the morning when he woke
His tender heart was full of fear
My stepmother baked tender pies
Neat meat pies with crusts of gold
My father ate up every bite
Brother let his pies grow cold
In the woods they found my bones
Buried them under the juniper tree
On my grave my brother weeps
Weeps until he cannot see.
And I will sing my little song
To soothe my brother’s tears away
To ring in my stepmother’s ears
Until she turns into the clay.
A lot of alliteration and repetition and imagery in the lyrics.
Stick Stock Emily: Voice, Lucy Farrell: voice & viola, Rachel Newton: voice
Emily is fast gaining a reputation for her songwriting and ‘lark-like’ voice. Inspired by the darker underbelly of folklore and balladry, Emily weaves harmony-rich narratives of both the magical and the monstrous.
A tale of wicked stepmothers and dubious meat pies, Emily Portman’s Stick Stock – from her 2010 debut album The Glamoury – was a brilliantly dizzy fairytale. Its dark comic genius deservedly bagged a BBC Folk Awards nomination.
There are more alternative folk lyrics where this one came from – she has a super imagination.
Less well known are her original compositions: these visceral visions of a darker Albion conjure landscapes where mythical sirens collide in urban backstreets. Inspired by folktales and ballads, Emily weaves harmony-rich narratives relaying female experience,
You can hear a number of her songs via her MySpace page.
I heard her group singing on Irish RTÉ Lyric fm radio today and was very taken aback with her unique talent.