Into The Green was Josh's first full-length album and was released on the 1st July 2016.
It is an album of two halves: the first, a collection of folk-inspired ballads; and the second, a suite of seven songs, narrating a single, fantasy-inspired story.
Behind the Artwork
Acclaimed Tolkien illustrator, Ted Nasmith created cover art for Into The Green. Arguably, his most spectacular work on the album was the inner gatefold art. You can see his working process here. Below are two drafts for the cover that Ted showed Josh, along with one of seven pencil drawings he did to illustrate each of the seven songs from the second half of the album. All seven of these drawings were printed in the sleeve notes of the vinyl record.
Ruth Lacon is another Tolkien illustrator and has exhibited her work alongside Ted's numerous times over the years. Ruth created artwork for the back cover of the album, along with a border which decorates the album booklet. Here you can see various drafts she put forward.
The Lost Dragon
Artwork for the back cover was initially going to be created by Martin Springett. However, after he created this initial sketch, he suffered a heart attack and was unable to complete the commission. Having made a full recovery, Martin continues to create artwork and music.
An idea for a photoshoot based on the track Forest Wanderer. The track was harvested from an abandoned concept album intended for Valénor. Clearly Josh had forests on the brain, as this unfinished album was also about a hero venturing into an enchanted wood. There he meets Gilney, a Green Man-type figure, who we also meet in the track Midnight's Malice on the first Valénor album.
Like any other self-respecting CD on the market, Into the Green came with a die-cut card panel depicting an enchanted forest. Pictured here is the initial design, formed from a photograph of a real-life, genuine tree taken in Serpentine Woods, Kendal and embellished with artwork by Frances Sladen. The printing company, however, pointed out that this was insane - did Josh have any idea how complicated it is to cut out all those little fairy wings on an industrial scale? Lunacy.
So the fairies were chopped out and given pride of place marching across the label of the vinyl edition.
With the artwork for Into the Green being so elaborately proggy, the website had to try and keep up. Thankfully, artist Vladan Ignatovic stepped in to create a series of foresty pieces which layered together and allowed visitors to venture into the enchanted wood for themselves and discover hidden features. To save you the hassle, we've created this page with all the features plus loads more, and now you can just stroll through the wood without the fear that there might be an unexpected interview lurking beneath every other toadstool.
Nearly every musician who has ever performed in York in the past five-or-so years has been photographed by Robert Mitchell. He captured some moments from the album launch of Into the Green which took place at City Screen Basement on 25th June 2016. As you can see, the lighting took that album title very literally. It was the only time the album was played through from front to back.
Josh - Vocals, Hammond, acoustic guitar
Frances Sladen - vocals
Ben Burnell - acoustic guitar, mandolin
Matt Mefford - bass
Antonio Curiale - fiddle
Nathan Greaves - electric guitar
Ed Simpson - drums
ITG A L 7
10740 Ben Joshua Burnell Basement 16-06-
ITG A L 12
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ITG A L 2
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ITG A L 1
This video shows a performance at the same venue on 4th December 2015. Peggy Seeger's Song of Choice was a staple in the set during that time, as were velvet jackets.
Reviews & Interviews
Into The Green was written during the summer of 2012 at Josh's parents house in a tiny hamlet called Le Sappey in the French alps. The view from the house inspired the story, so three years later in 2015, Frances took some photos for the release. Most people who see the photos assume it's photoshopped and if you look closely, you may notice Josh is wearing the same shoes as in the music video for 'Skylark & The Oak' which means Josh really needs to buy some more shoes.
The album was recorded & mixed by Dan Webster at Paper Plane Studios, York, with the exception of the grand piano, which was recorded at a private location, and of course... the Hammond organ!
Throughout the process, Josh insisted every instrument had to be real (i.e. not software, or imaginary and ideally, organic) so when it came to the Hammond organ, Josh had to find one. He bought one only to discover it was the 'wrong one' (whatever that means) so had to give it away to some neighbours (who may also have thought it was the 'wrong one' as the box of chocolates they promised never appeared). When eventually the 'right one' was found (T202, apparently, with authentic cigarette burn), it was carried upstairs by some disgruntled delivery men and carried up and down stairs much to the dismay of anyone who has been around each time Josh has moved house since.
Here's some photos of the recording process, including Ben Burnell (mandolin), Antonio Curiale (viola d'amore), Matt Mefford (bass), Angela Gordon (flute) and Paul Young (melodeon).
The first 73 copies were manufactured with an incorrect track listing on one of the labels. These were packaged along with a in-depth story of the album's creation and a print of one of Ted Nasmith's drawings. The culprit behind the error is yet to be identified.
When the CD is removed from the packaging, the Dwarf mysteriously vanishes! There's also a hidden bit of audio hidden at the start of The Smuggler's Tale, much to Matt's dismay...
The vinyl edition was cut at Abbey Road Studios and the engineer engraved a message into the dead wax. There is also a hidden story on one of the labels along with a dragon animation.