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A Portrait

from Triptych by Northern Oak

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If Ellan Vannin was challenging due to the complexity of the brief, A Portrait was by far the most challenging song for us to write due to the emotional nature of the subject matter. Sarah, who commissioned this song, sent us a message detailing some very stressful and difficult life events that had happened to her over the past few years, and wanted us to try and write something that would serve as catharsis- a soundtrack to her personal journey, as it were. This was the last song that we finished writing, mostly because we wanted to get it absolutely right- we placed a lot of importance on trying to make sure that we'd created something that would do her story justice. Martin took a long time agonising over the lyrics, and eventually decided to write in the first person, to give voice to Sarah's thoughts and feelings based on the information she gave us.

Musically, this song is probably the closest to post-rock/post-metal that we've ever gotten- it largely maintains the rhythm of the initial bass intro throughout, iterating between quiet and loud until about halfway through. Sarah had an idea for how the different parts of the song could sound and interact, and we tried our best to follow those directions while also maintaining the flow of the song. I hope it meets with her approval!


I would feel your hands for twelve moons of my adult bloom.
You nourished my timid roots. Guarded my shoots from frost.
So how was I to pay the same kindness? How was I to protect you?
When they arrived with their shackles of law and administration.
I Couldn't stop our dog at night puncturing the hills
With the sound of two lovers being pulled apart.

That last Christmas we shared we should have raced out into the night far from smoke and concepts. Far to where the pines would shield us, our connection the only hearth we'd need, we'd have built a land without boundaries. Where a fallen cup once shattered could simply gather itself back up once more.

Be whole once more.

Instead we lived in our bubble until the hour. Until I pursued you, I pursued you across this earth, welcomed with open arms among your kin and spent three weeks a fugitive in a world where your fingers could melt the snow.

Conversation became something beyond beauty, it was weaved long into every night. I have seen love take many forms. You wrote this feeling in me like a symphony, that rings with chords and keys of safety, peace and home. How I long for its composer to return so I can tap into its tune once more, see that world once more. For now I content myself with the choirs of angels.

Who will buy my sweet red roses?
Who will buy that day for me?
I would treasure it,
My charm from all the memories that pierce my heart.

No matter if I should love again,
This feeling is in every fibre of my being.
It cannot be bought, cannot be lost,

It's yours.

It's yours.


from Triptych, released November 29, 2015
Music and lyrics: Northern Oak
This song was written as a Kickstarter commission for Ms Sarah Aggarwal.


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Northern Oak Sheffield, UK

Founded in early 2006 during a wintry excursion to the Peak District, Northern Oak have been spreading their unique brand of flute-heavy progressive folk metal across Sheffield and the rest of the UK ever since.

Our music sounds like Jethro Tull played by extreme metal fans with an appreciation for everything from Pink Floyd to Emperor.
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