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Coth Records COTHCD010

Doug Eunson and Sarah Matthews have been a duo since 1995 and have recorded three albums in that time, Song And Laughter being their third. Their singing is augmented by a variety of instruments that include melodeon, fiddle, viola and percussion, all of which are played with style and empathy with the music. Doug and Sarah are at their best when they are harmonising together, as each compliments the other, however, in my view, when singing solo they are much more exposed. In many ways this is an interesting CD which, like the curates egg, contains some great tracks, therefore falling into the category of good in parts. However to be fair, when trying to take a balanced view, it is sometimes difficult to be inclusive concerning material that doesn’t suit one’s own personal taste.

Performed in a traditional folk style, the overall feel of the CD is exceedingly accomplished with most of the material coming from a contemporary background. Nothing wrong in that and indeed there is much to be applauded, especially as all great songs have to start somewhere. The Rudyard Kipling poem, The Dutch In The Medway, set to music by Peter Bellamy, is an impressive song, performed with a great sense of style by Doug and ably supported in the chorus by Sarah. Sadly the same cannot be said of Windmill At Heage by Shelley Posen which has a mediocre tune and a somewhat tedious blow by blow account of the miller at work. Songs of this ilk are certainly folk stocking fillers but add little to the rich heritage of the tradition. I suspect this song will have a relatively short shelf life before falling through the traditional music sieve. However Songbirds In June, a new mazurka written “with love in honour of the marriage of Fiona and Christopher Jackson” is a different kettle of fish altogether. This really is a fine tune which deserves to be played in sessions up and down the country for years to come.

Based upon this CD, if you come across Sarah and Doug at a folk festival or folk club I would certainly recommend them. If Song And Laughter is anything to go by, much of their material is chorus based, so make sure you have your singing head on!

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 114 of The Living Tradition magazine.