The Liberty System

by Nat Johnson

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  • Compact Disc (CD)

    Hand-numbered limited edition CD with three covers to choose from. Only 300 copies were produced; 100 of each cover. Each one comes with a tiny lyric book (inspired by the tiny books the Brontës wrote as children) along with a little magnifying glass to help you read it.

    Artwork by Oliver Allchin, tiny books by Nat.
    NB all CDs contain all three songs

    ...

    The Liberty System is a Brontë sisters triptych full of classical elements and meteorology. The songs 'Anne, the Gardener', 'Emily, the Diver' and 'Charlotte, the Levitator' study the literary sisters' creative approaches and their influence on one another's writing and ambitions.

    Each song sees a sister returning to the Parsonage dining room to write - bringing the room alive - before her work is released into the world. Each sister has been ascribed an element and each seeks a different kind of liberty.

    Commissioned by Off the Shelf Festival as part of the Brontë bicentenary celebrations.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Liberty System via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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    edition of 228 

     £5 GBP or more

     

  • Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

     £1.49 GBP  or more

     

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about

The Liberty System is a Brontë sisters triptych full of classical elements and meteorology. The songs 'Anne, the Gardener', 'Emily, the Diver' and 'Charlotte, the Levitator' study the literary sisters' creative approaches and their influence on one another's writing and ambitions.

Each song sees a sister returning to the Parsonage dining room to write - bringing the room alive - before her work is released into the world. Each sister has been ascribed an element and each seeks a different kind of liberty.

...

Commissioned by Off the Shelf Festival as part of the Brontë bicentenary, The Liberty System was performed and discussed at Off the Shelf, Beverley Literature Festival and Ilkley Literature Festival in October 2016.

Only 300 copies of the CD were produced; 100 of each cover. Each one is hand-numbered and comes with a tiny lyric book (inspired by the tiny books the Brontës wrote as children) along with a magnifying glass to help you read it.

credits

released October 21, 2016

Written and performed by Nat Johnson
Violins on Anne, the Gardener by Katherine Jackson
Artwork by Oliver Allchin

Recorded by Actual Midgets at Harwood Street Studios, Sheffield
Mastered by Rob Gordon
Exorcism by Graham Burchell

Straw and Hay Records 2016

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all rights reserved

about

Nat Johnson Sheffield, UK

“A treat for fans of PJ Harvey and Alela Diane” – Subba Cultcha

Singer-songwriter., ex-Monkey Swallows the Universe / Nat Johnson & the Figureheads.

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Track Name: Anne, the Gardener
Let out like a scream, you don’t fit with the scheme; an orange hawkweed
Among the blues and yellows, the bells and primrose that line the way home
Where you’re drawn, by-and-by, by invisible tie, a hand in the sky
You’ve been gritting your teeth until your release, and you stole truth like a thief

Sister, lay your burdens on the table
In a bundle of blooms let them grow
Twisting tendrils, oh tormentil your roots running over
To the edge; your wretched vetch stretching out, heading boldly
Down the table leg to flagstone bed 
Your honest seeds are sown

Now like your own self before watch them climbing the walls
Build your trellis according to new rules
Try to train them in lines, prune the faith-strangling vines
“Come forwards”

Sister, grow your garden
Though your soil is pure and giving, your work’s never done
Every harebell you get ringing they hide from the sun
Every yellow rattle shaken, selfheal nettle-stung
But wear your foxgloves with that perfect love, don’t hold your adders-tongue:

“You tell us curl up, “dear creatures”, beside the fire at night
While you hedge this heaven’s pleasures to indulge your appetite
But here in the garden you must walk a straighter edge
You can really smell the roses if you cut back the excess
There’s an expansive future like the Scarborough sea
With all its hope and possibility
And dew from my sister gives my plants their Yorkshire tea
Untasted, unsalted, unkept inspiring me
And the breath of my sister to spread my sprouting seeds

“Taking our plans
In our own hands
Working the land”
Track Name: Emily, the Diver
From depths returned, floated back to land
Face of fog and body of clay
Diamond dust, evaporee

A river cut deep, a path drawn straight 

Seen from above, the line of fate
Face of fog and body of clay

The earth moves out of your way

Myth sees you ride a dark wave neath the moon
Dredging all worlds from the ancient salty blue
A bride-less train of eternity
Dragged in your wake across the cold country

But on a damp and still morning - ah!
Your shadow there cast crepuscular
And in the garden your rain falls far from the plain

Each mark met with arrow’s aim
Your currents strong, your clouds right wrung

A bay where floats your galleon

Quencher, oh drencher, lifegiver, life taker 

Feed these roots, fill these boots, blot and cross the wallpaper

With port-wrenching power and starboard compassion
Love finds a lover but a storm soon comes thrashing
Then with mingled affection your steam-devil of a sister
Drives you to advection, that oft-brewin’ half-twister

And comes a creeping fog from her petting conquistar
Downward and townward to menace the vista

A low-lying, eye-widening solitary cloud
A galaxy unfocused unsettles the crowd
But you’re far from there; you are diving again
For no soul can be loosed in this world of men

Closer to home is closer to you
Closer still is the infinitely starry salty blue

Diving and grasping for hands outstretched

Take your place in the chain reaching down to the depths

Track Name: Charlotte, the Levitator
A stillness she can’t bear,
This curling, swirling air
But she holds her breath and, from right to left,
Patrols the perimeter

Oh, a breeze breathes relief
She comes in, then what’s in is released
Soars to ceiling height, then from left to right
Spreads her secrets to each dew-soaked leaf

Decanter, thought-planter
Blow through the grass and speak at last
Set em flyin, dandelion
Come sing out loud, don’t whisper now
Navigator, levitator
Over mist prevail to fill that sail
Before you turn again, weathervane

Weeds to tumble and stalks to bend
Soil to crumble and breath to lend
Prithee pepperpot-shaker
Show your power, sea-shaper
Take us up, take us out, sky’s friend

Hair-tangler, cloud-wrangler,
It’s up to you when the sun breaks through
Take us higher, spread this fire
Through the great outside, be satisfied
Fog-lifter, seed-drifter
Your own heart as proof, tell the truth
Before you circle back on your corkscrew track

And with this tidy turn the wallflowers wince and waver
Flickering the lamplight, dropping the temperature
Throwing back the bushes like a tossed head of hair

Right to left - so bereft - blowing a cold, cold air

Refuter, uprooter!
“I gift to thee a dormancy”
Chastiser, capsizer!
“And evaporate this sinful strait”
Oh banshee, how can she!
“Watch me dim the Northern Lights”
Turn again, hurricane

The wind can but grasp at the hands of time
Wise-turner, late learner, all liberty thine