Offa Rex – “The Old Churchyard”

Next month, Offa Rex — the British folk revival collaboration between the Decemberists and British singer Olivia Chaney — will release their debut album, The Queen Of Hearts, which features 13 versions of folk songs. We’ve heard the title track and “Blackleg Miner” from it so far, and today they’ve shared another one called “The Old Churchyard.” This one, like the other two before it, is accompanied by a live performance video. Check it out below.

Chaney talked to Lenny about the collaboration, and here’s what she had to say about the choice to cover “The Old Churchyard”:

I learned that song from a record by the legendary English folk-singing group the Watersons. But they got the song from an American folk singer, I’m not sure how long ago. It’s a wonderful [song], and it definitely doesn’t sound American. I like to imagine how the first settlers traveled from the British Isles over to America, and how that music evolved in America and then this English singing group in the ’60s learned this song, so it sort of made its way back. And then I traveled from England over the ocean back to America and sang this song. I just kind of thought that was a nice cyclical thing.

It’s a song that I was doing at a lot of gigs in a very un-folky scene. I used to sing it a cappella on my own a lot. I wouldn’t regard myself as devoutly religious, but there’s something about that text that I think is quite mystical or beautiful.

The Queen Of Hearts is out 7/14 via Nonesuch Records.