Lovers and Fighters

by Jessica Law & Marion Leeper

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Henry Wilson
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Henry Wilson Jessica Law and Marion Leeper demonstrate mastery of memory and melody, helping us to remember things we've felt.

This piece has a beautiful, kind, and optimistic quality to it.

Favorite track: I Don't Want to Know.
Steven C. Davis
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Steven C. Davis A stunningly beautiful album. Repeated listening will reveal even more depth, but even on just two listen-throughs, it's heart-felt and poignant. A masterpiece! Favorite track: "Two Lionesses".
Jacqui Law
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Jacqui Law Jessica & Marion are “two lionesses” indeed! Marion expertly drives the story forward with impeccable timing to hold the attention & create visual images which take the listener into another world.

Jessica's songs are like treasure troves along the way, treating us to a deeper exploration of the character’s motivations, ingeniously crafted to help us connect to them on a personal level. Weaving these two key elements together, Marion & Jessica have captured the essence of masterful storytelling Favorite track: Give the Beauty Out.
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1.
Battle Song 05:53
We sing of battles and kings Of love and the madness it brings Our tale begins, as it has done many times before On the field of war Two lines assemble to fight Each side knows their reason is right Dictated by the fates and guided by god on high Let the war decide In those far off days when all Europe was united as one, the great emperor Charlemagne raised an army to fight off the invaders at his borders. People who spoke a different language, ate different food, and wore funny trousers. The Saracen army from over the ocean faced Charlemagne’s paladins across the plain. Fresh blood darkens the ground Bones break with a sickening sound But if you think that battle is the domain of men Better think again In her white surcoat, Bradamante, daughter of Duke Aymon, Charlemagne’s bravest and truest knight: Bradamante held back, looking to see where the battle was fiercest. Then she was off, through the fray, confident as if she had a bodyguard of a thousand men behind her, though she rode alone. White plume adrift in the wind Grey steel in the palm of my hand A scarlet fire inside as outward I cast my eye For a fight worth my time And then she saw him: the hero of the Saracens, Ruggiero, racing down the hillside like a torrent down its bed. As the two met, it was like the clash of two lions in the field, like waves beating against a cliff, or lightning splitting a mountain top. They fought until they could hardly stand, until they could no longer lift their weapons. At last they agreed to stop and rest – that’s what chivalrous knights do. They found a valley stream where they wash their wounds. Each took off their helmet, not knowing what the other’s face would show. Ruggiero was definitely not expecting cascading locks of shining hair: and Bradamante never dreamt she would meet eyes like deep pools of clear water. Have I found an equal? Found a man whose power matches mine? You boy, of all people Are the one I’d fight life’s battles by What hand has set our love in motion Within this war? Love crosses battle lines and oceans It senses more. They gazed into each other’s eyes and it was as if they were walking in an enchanted forest for three days and three nights, exploring every shady path and lingering where hidden fountains bubbled from the rocks. Then Bradamante turned away. ‘We can’t love each other. We are enemies.’ ‘No, we can’t be together,’ said Ruggiero. ‘You would lose your lands, your wealth your friends, if you came to be with me,’ said Bradamante. Ruggiero agreed. ‘You’d lose your family, your shining reputation.’ ‘We’d better part before it’s too late.’ And slowly, they turned and went back, each to their own camp. Each of them buried their feelings deep inside, hidden forever - or so they thought.
2.
Off went Bradamante, back to her soldier’s duty. She thought she’d never see Ruggiero again. But when you’re in love – even if you’re pretending that you’re not – you can’t help hearing the name of your loved one everywhere – from friends, from enemies, on the breath of the wind, seeping from the ground itself. So it was that Bradamante heard how the evil necromancer Atlas had, for some dark reason of his own, spirited Ruggiero away to his magical steel castle deep in the mountains of the Pyrenees. Things never go according to plan when there is an evil necromancer involved. At once, Bradamante forgot all her good intentions and went galloping to the rescue. After more dangers and desperate adventures than we have time to tell, she arrived, armed with the magic ring that would help her defeat the necromancer. At the foot of the cliff where the steel castle raised its shining head, Bradamante blew her horn. As if in answer, a magical creature appeared over the battlements – the hippogriff. The eagle eyes and lion claws of her father the griffin, the belly and hind legs of her mother the mare, and stretching out as if to block out the sun, magnificent wings, all the colours of the earth and sky. On her back rode the iron-clad necromancer, bristling with weapons. With the aid of the magic ring Bradamante could see that these weapons were illusions: all he held was a book of spells. With this he controlled the hippogriff’s every movement: only her thoughts were still her own.
3.
Fly with me through galaxies upon the solar wind We’ll find the place where all the lost things go The key to your front window or the wits of your best friend I serve, although it wasn’t always so I recall the icy air Across the frozen ocean where I soared above the mountains of my home My father taught me how to fly and how to preen and peck My mother taught me how to jump and run Then I met a man who had a plan to conquer death His demon power hard to overcome Come down from your myrtle tree Undo my bonds and rescue me I’ll always be the property of man One task and another, that’s the way to keep me down I’ll ferry you from heaven down to hell Doing work for others ‘til I can’t remember how I became the beast of burden I am now That I possess wonderful power That I was wild once, and free That I surpass human endeavour That no bridle can contain my majesty So... Fly with me through galaxies upon the solar wind We’ll find the place where all the lost things go The moon is not the property of any earthly thing That’s why the ones with nothing love it so On its cratered, glowing back I hope we find the things we lack Your keys, his wits, my liberty - I hope.
4.
And then began the strangest game of cat and mouse you ever saw: you couldn’t tell who was the cat, and who was the mouse, Atlas, the necromancer, drove the hippogriff at Bradamante, pretending to attack her, now with a lance, now with a rapier, now with a mace, while Bradamante pretended to dodge; until she fell to the ground, pretending to be stunned. As she’d hoped, Atlas drove the obedient hippogriff to the ground. He dismounted and came to claim his victim; but Bradamante leapt up and bound him with his own unbreakable chain. She raised her victorious arm to cut off his head: ‘Die, evil necromancer,’ she said and pulled off his helmet. But what did she see? A doleful face, wrinkles, silver hair. ‘You’re old,’ she said. ‘I don’t kill old people.’ ‘Old maybe, but not that evil,’ replied the necromancer. ‘It’s not for myself I want to cheat death. Love was it that moved me to rescue that gentle knight, my foster son, Ruggiero, to save him from the evil influence of his fixed stars. That’s why I keep him in this castle, surrounded by fine company, every wish that heart can feel and lips can utter. Leave me Ruggiero and you may have the rest.’ Bradamante did not agree to this. She forced the chained Atlas to show her the magic flasks smoking with a hidden fire, under the castle threshold. She smashed them, and the steel walls of the castle dissolved to insubstantial air, leaving Ruggiero and the other prisoners running around in confusion. Atlas, too, disappeared, like a minnow through the gaps in the fisherman’s net. Ruggiero and Bradamante’s eyes met once more: and at that moment both of them knew they couldn’t escape their fate. But then a shout from the escaped prisoners: they were trying to catch the hippogriff. They joined the chase: the magical creature landed just within Ruggiero’s reach. He grabbed her reins: she wouldn’t budge: he couldn’t resist this marvellous prize so he threw himself onto her back. The hippogriff, trotted a few steps, reared up on her hind legs and leapt into the air. Ruggiero couldn’t help it: he was carried away from all the responsibilities of love, completely against his will of course. and all Bradamante could do was watch him go.
5.
A green island, like an emerald burning in the ocean. On the shore, a woman fishing. The net was made from strands of her own shining hair; and fish jumped in of their own accord. Ruggiero flew over a land of meadows, orange groves, and shady forests where the nightingale shelters. As soon as he was close enough, he leapt to the ground: he dragged his steed to earth, and tethered her to a nearby myrtle bush, while he stopped to drink from a pool of clear water. Travelling a thousand miles in full armour gives you a thirst. But then the myrtle bush cleared its throat. ‘Excuse me: please untie your strange beast. Once I was a knight, until I was changed into this bush by the enchantress Alcina: I don’t deserve to become a tethering post as well.’ The myrtle bush urged the astonished Ruggiero not to fall into the enchantress’ snares. Ruggiero promised to resist temptation: but as he walked along the shore, there was Alcina, smiling and holding out her hand. ‘Come, Ruggiero: let me show you my island. And join me for dinner – look, fish pie.’ How could Ruggiero withstand enchantment like this? He settled into a life of luxury on the island. So much fish pie that he almost couldn’t fit into his armour. But one day, as he lay back idly watching the clouds, a turtle dove, flying overhead, dropped something at his feet: Bradamante’s magic ring. At once Ruggiero woke from the spell: with the image of his true love in his head, he saw Alcina with different eyes; gaps in her teeth; a bald patch on her head, and those breasts like firm ripe apples seemed to him now like wrinkled rotten fruit. He rushed from her perfumed pavilion, gasping for breath: while Alcina, heart-broken, tried to decide whether to turn him to a pine tree, a pebble or a polecat: but it was too late, Ruggiero was gone.
6.
I’m standing staring out to sea The silver sand beneath my feet Another lover lost to me for seeing Who I truly am Am I all that bad? Forgive me my naivety I thought that my ability To render life from stone would be sufficient Turns out I was wrong Youth is all you want But my words can charm the fishes from the sea And my song can lure the sirens up to me I can whip a zephyr up to fill your sails Or an island on the humpback of a whale And I can make a garden filled with light Yeah, I can take a hater And turn him into nature Yeah, I can make an earthly paradise It takes a life to learn it You really have to earn it I’d like to see you try My sisters don’t resemble me I lack Morgana’s villainy I lack the self-restraint of Logistilla I just want some fun Doesn’t everyone For what would a woman want, if she could choose? Doesn’t matter, ‘cos whichever way she’ll lose I could spend my power on eternal youth I could squander it to cover up the truth Or I could make a garden filled with light Yeah, I could take a hater And turn him into nature Yeah, I could make an earthly paradise It takes a life to learn it You really have to earn it I’d like to see you try For what would a woman want, if she could choose? Doesn’t matter, ‘cos whichever way she’ll lose I could choose to lavish beauty on myself I could choose to live and give the beauty out...
7.
Picture Bradamante spending long months in charge of a garrison, the only place she could do her duty and defend her country, without the danger of having to fight her beloved Ruggiero. For the first time she had no appetite for battle. Day after day waiting for news – she heard about a little skirmish in Paris, the hippogriff flying off to the moon, the old necromancer losing his fight with death – but all she wanted was news of Ruggiero. Then the rumours came - from friends, from enemies, from passers-by – on the breath of the wind, even seeping out of the ground itself: rumours of Ruggiero’s name with other women. It wasn’t just Alcina: and after all, who could resist enchantment like hers? He escaped from Alcina only to fall in with Angelica, the most beautiful woman in the world: well, all the other knights were in love with her: how could Ruggiero resist? But then, she heard his name linked with the Saracen warrior Marfisa: Bradamante’s equal and opposite. Marfisa, so wild she wouldn’t let a roof cover her head. Marfisa who cared only for glory: who wore on a string at her belt the foreskins of eight lecherous kings. An escaped prisoner of war filled her in with every unwanted detail. Yes, they were always in each other’s company. Ruggiero was wounded in battle – had been near death’s door - Marfisa visited his sickbed every day. The whole camp was expecting their marriage – just as soon as Ruggiero was recovered from his injuries. This was too much! Biting her knuckles to silence her cries, Bradamante snatched up a sword and pointed it at her own breast, if only to still her whirling thoughts.
8.
I know what I’ve heard And I don’t want to hear more I know she’s strong like me I kept my word I kept away from this war But I know what’s wrong with me I know she’s got more in common I know she’s on the same side She is the logical option And that’s fine I don’t want to know what she talks like I don’t want to know what she wears I don’t want to know what she sounds like Till she’s screaming out her final breath I don’t want to know what she thinks like And I don’t want to know what she’s read I don’t want to know what she looks like Till I look right in the eyes of her severed head I don’t care if you kill me ‘Cos by then I’d be better off dead To die by your hand, my beautiful man Is the closest we’ll ever get We’ll ever get I tried to forget I tried to fall on my sword Must have forgotten The plate at my breast Shielding my heart from its force Now my fate is written And you are my singular equal You, I am willing to fight If you can best me in battle That’s alright I don’t want to know what she walks like I don’t want to know what she says I don’t want to know what she moves like Till she’s running in vain from her death I don’t want to know what she smells like And please spare me what she’s like in bed I don’t want to know what she feels like Till she kneels right at my feet with my blade at her neck I don’t care if you kill me ‘Cos at least I can die as I lived A spear in my fist, your name on my lips Fighting like I always did I always did I always did
9.
Choosing death in battle as a warrior’s way out, Bradamante set off straight away for the centre of the fray. After more dangers and desperate adventures than we have time to tell, she arrived, and threw herself into battle, looking for the sleek figure of her rival. And when she and Marfisa met, it was like the clash of two lionesses; like waves breaking against a cliff, or lightning splitting a mountain top. They grappled and tumbled and rolled down a valley slope to land at the feet of a marble tomb – the burial place of the necromancer Atlas. Ruggiero, dancing around them, drew his sword to stop Marfisa harming his beloved Bradamante, when a great cry from the tomb shattered the air. ‘Stop! Ruggiero! Don’t harm Marfisa! She is your sister!’ It turned out that the necromancer had cheated death one last time: his ghost had waited on this very spot to give Ruggiero this final piece of advice. There would have been more, but Bradamante interrupted: ‘You’re his sister? I thought you were going to get married!’ ‘Marry him?’ snorted Marfisa ‘I was nursing him back to health so that I could smash the living daylights out of him. You don’t know how he insulted me.’ At once Bradamante understood that they were truly brother and sister. ‘Then you are my sister too.’ Bradamante hugged Marfisa, and then she and Ruggiero embraced. The three swore to meet in six months time at the fair monastery of Vallombrosa, where Ruggiero and Bradamante would get married, and they would all live happily ever after – and so they might have done, if Ruggiero hadn’t decided to go on one last adventure. He didn’t know it would end up in him being shipwrecked on a desert island. With nothing to do but sit, and think….
10.
Should Be 03:10
Should be standing by you hand in hand Not abandoned, stranded on the sand Should embrace the holy water's grace Not the sting of brine across my face Should have been on time Should have honoured you and kept my promise Shouldn't have to nearly die - Wrecked at sea - to see just what you're worth But if I face you at the altar stone I sacrifice the life I used to know I surrender my side of the war Execute the man I was before So I play for time Teetering upon the brink of never Taking every chance I find There's a lot to keep me occupied Like the time I had to fight Mandricard He had on the same tabard as me, you see I could not let it be Or when I wrestled with the giant He left me pretty tired My horse got stolen on the way back home Or do you remember when your cousins Got into a spot of bother with that man He was a dark enchanter Or the time I helped your twin Joining him on a mission Of disguise in male and female garb Always time for just another quest Stealing time from those I love the best Never miss a chance to vacillate Is it any wonder that I'm late? Now I pay the price Now I pit myself against your patience Will you save me one last time? All that I can do is sit and wait...
11.
It could all have been so simple. Ruggiero was rescued from the shipwreck. He’d resolved to give up his lands and position for Bradamante’s sake, and he was on his way back to her: only to be kidnapped and imprisoned in the deepest dungeon of the Emperor of Greece. Meanwhile, Bradamante returned to her family home to find that her father had arranged her marriage with that same Emperor of Greece’s son, prince Leo – no penniless Saracen for their family! Bradamante, however, was not so easily silenced. She went to see her liege lord, Charlemagne. ‘I have done you good service,’ she said. ‘Grant me this favour: that the man I marry must meet me in battle and prove himself my equal before we wed.’ She knew that Leo, the prince with the soul of a poet, would never manage to defeat her. But she didn’t know that Ruggiero, rescued by kind-hearted Leo from his chains, was bound by gratitude to put on Leo’s armour and face her instead of him in the tournament. She entered the combat ground dancing with excitement, like a Barbary steed waiting the signal to charge, her sword cutting sparks from the air as she swung it. Meanwhile Ruggiero had stayed up all night blunting his sword so it would do his beloved no harm. He walked to the centre of the field. Bradamante circled round him, then hurtled towards him, her sword held high, while he stood braced to endure her every blow. These two, perfectly matched, at the peak of their powers: who will win? But that’s where we must leave them. They still have to face more dangers and desperate adventures than we have time to tell: and who knows whether they will ever end up together. But that’s a story for another night. Let’s leave the last word with Bradamante.
12.
I don’t want to know what I should do I don’t want to know what they say I don’t want to know if they like you ‘Cos I’m marrying you anyway I don’t want to know about Leo ‘Cos he’s lying back there in my wake I don’t want to know of the struggle And the trouble and the strife I went through for your sake I don’t care if it kills me ‘Cos I’d do it again, and the rest Your hand in my hand, my beautiful man The start of our greatest quest Our greatest quest

about

As war rages across Europe, fearless female knight Bradamante finally meets a man whose power matches her own. In the midst of a fierce battle, they fall in love. The only problem is, he’s on the enemy side, and in the clutches of an evil necromancer.

As these two lovers pursue each other around the globe, they face strange monsters, bewitching magic, furious rivalry and everyday prejudice in their fight to be together. Based on the Italian epic poem Orlando Furioso, their story is bizarre, audacious and as relevant today as the day it was written.

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released April 29, 2020

Songs by Jessica Law
Storytelling by Marion Leeper
Music by Jessica Law & Nick Siepmann

Vocals, resonator mandolele, glockenspiel: Jessica Law
Guitars, cello, keyboards, bass, drum programming, percussion, synths: Nick Siepmann

Artwork by: Kelly Briggs
Design by: Frank Voss

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Jessica Law

"Packed with emotion, surprise and wit." - The Daily Album
“Someone… who’d probably get laughed off the X-Factor for not being exactly the same as everyone else.” – Nightshift Magazine
"A collection of intriguing folk songs, packed with expressive lyrics, strange rhythms and creative instrumentation." - Ocelot Magazine
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