Gwyneth Herbert biography
Hailed as ‘brilliantly original’ by Mojo and 'super-talented' by The Telegraph[url/], Gwyneth Herbert is at the vanguard of a new generation of genre-defying singer-songwriters.
Initially known as an interpreter of jazz and pop standards, Herbert's latest record 'All the Ghosts' is populated by a living, breathing cast of beaten-down dreamers, jaded city-dwellers, and women in a quandary, and has the critics scrambling for comparisons with artists as diverse as Lennon and McCartney, Nina Simone, The Kinks and Tom Waits.
Herbert's musical career started while at university in Durham, where she formed a jazz/folk duo with guitarist Will Rutter. The pair played extensively throughout the North-East, and together roamed Edinburgh, Paris and Amsterdam, busking and hustling for gigs. After moving to London they cut an album called 'First Songs' for a label run out of the Pizza Express on London’s Dean Street – a cornerstone venue in Soho’s jazz scene.
On the back of that record's success, Herbert was soon signed up by the Universal conglomerate as a jazz crossover artist, and in September 2004 released her first solo album 'Bittersweet and Blue', featuring a mixture of originals, jazz standards and pop covers.
Throughout the extensive touring period that followed, Herbert began writing songs of her own, forming a writing partnership with pianist Tom Cawley (Curios) and developing her own voice, so much so that she soon found she had outgrown the initial role defined for her by the major label.
Herbert left Universal Classics and Jazz to pursue a less commercial and more personal musical direction. Collaborating with Polar Bear's Seb Rochford in a production role, Herbert's 'Between Me and the Wardrobe' featured exclusively original material, was recorded in three days and never intended for general release. The album was initially put out on Herbert's own Monkeywood label before being picked up by Blue Note Records in 2007, making Herbert their first UK signing in 20 years.
In early 2008, Herbert was commissioned by a collaborative project between Peter Gabriel and Bowers & Wilkins to record an acoustic album at Gabriel's Real World Studios. The result of these sessions — Ten Lives — was released as a digital download in July 2008, available only from the Bowers & Wilkins website as part of their Music Club.
Her latest record, 'All the Ghosts', features some remixed versions of these recordings alongside some new tracks, and was released in June 2009 on the Naim Edge label to much critical acclaim.