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ONE ACCORD - Broadcast It O’er The Land

ONE ACCORD - Broadcast It O’er The Land
Cock Robin Music  CRM215

One Accord is a Lancashire-based quartet that mostly performs outside the folk circuit, and is best known for its Christmas-centred repertoire which proudly specialises in local carols from around the country (the group’s first CD, released in 2005, was a live recording of some of that repertoire). Group members have researched and revived some Lancashire carols which were performed within living memory, although the present disc is noticeably light on examples of such. Instead it presents an admirably varied selection of material both vocal and instrumental that takes in sources from around the world rather than just Lancashire (although the county naturally figures quite a bit!)

All four members of One Accord sing, and, although it may often seem that the lion’s share of the vocal duties falls to Linda Green and Alison Whitaker, the two men (John Green and Peter Bearon) are no less capable as singers and each has a character that blends well with the other voices. Even if this blending is sometimes conducted in a more consciously practised and refined way than you’ll hear in many of the harmony ensembles on the folk scene, the effect is not tame but rather powerful and carefully-controlled, for they all sing with evident commitment to both the material and the arrangement thereof.

Linda and Alison bring a high degree of dramatic flair to their epic realisation of the Child ballad Dives And Lazarus, for example, while at the other end of the spectrum the group’s barbershop-style account of the Frank Loesser 40s chestnut Slow Boat To China is both charmingly light-hearted and genially persuasive and their opening account of 19th century Lancashire dialect poet Edwin Waugh’s A Bit Of A Sing certainly encourages our ready participation. One Accord also show imagination in their combination and juxtaposition of related material, as on the "War Set” Marlborough To Maginot and a conflation of two different versions of Lyke Wake Dirge.

On paper, One Accord’s instrumental complement may appear restrictive, in that Alison and John both play recorders (and John also English concertina) while Linda and Peter play piano accordion and melodeons/duet concertina respectively. The resultant richness of sound makes an attractive (and quite lavish) backdrop for items such as Tribute To The Drowned (a pairing of Lancashire poet Samuel Laycock’s account of the 1886 lifeboat disaster with a tune more familiarly used for From Greenland’s Icy Mountains), and the ensemble’s arranging skills are well demonstrated on items such as MacPherson’s Lament.
One Accord’s musical journey takes in America (the vigorous shape-note song Wondrous Love and the gospel classic Palms Of Victory – the latter seeming a touch polite here, I thought), France and Belgium (L’Enfant De Dieu and Bear Dance), Wales (the hymn tune Ebenezer) and Ireland (Lark In The Clear Air). The spirited Glasgow, however, turns out to be words from the Primitive Methodist Hymnbook set to a sprightly fuguing tune, while Shaw Lane utilises one of the many While Shepherds Watched tunes for its setting of All Hail The Power.

Throughout the disc, One Accord invariably show considerable intelligence in their realisations of often neglected material, and thus the satisfaction quotient is at a consistently high level if you’re one of those listeners who appreciate a well-organised programme more than capably delivered.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.