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NICK WYKE & BECKI DRISCOLL - The Songs Of Edward Capern The Postman Poet

NICK WYKE & BECKI DRISCOLL - The Songs Of Edward Capern The Postman Poet

Joyous is the only way to describe this masterful CD! I was instantly transported back into a half-forgotten world before the ravages and consequences of the First World War tore the very fabric of the English countryman’s way of life into shreds forever. In many ways, I felt as if I was listening to an imaginary act three of Flora Thompson’s Lark Rise. The whole gamut of human existence - joy, pain, loss and death - is displayed with such alacrity in both the writing and the music. This is even more remarkable as the work spans across two centuries.

Edward Capern, the source of the material, was born in Tiverton in 1819. After working in a lace factory from an early age he was forced to find alternative employment due to failing eyesight. Edward secured a job as a postman in Bideford and successfully published several volumes of poetry during his lifetime, all composed whilst trudging through the Devon countryside delivering the mail. The style, content and scope of the work provide an extraordinary window into a way of life and times gone by.

Skipping forward nearly 200 years from Edward’s humble beginnings, Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll have endowed his discerning poetry with equally exciting punchy contemporary folk music. As a singer songwriter myself, I am always drawn to the music first and the words second. If the tune is weak or derivative, that is enough to dissuade me from pursuing the song further. As a wordsmith, the content must be as good as the music, and what a symbiotic marriage of words and music we have here. The inclusion of old folk tunes, played with such a surety of touch is a masterful stroke of genius that raises the whole work to a much greater level. Nick and Becki have really delved into the inner workings of the poetry and created arrangements of great understanding and beauty, an accolade rarely given or deserved.

There is so much great music on this CD it is hard to single out any one song in particular, however Song Of The Keeper is interesting as it is unusually written from the point of view of the life of a gamekeeper. The Old-Fashioned Plough is a great chorus song which I shall be adding to my repertoire as soon as time allows. Kitty Lile has a sympathetic tune equal to the sadness of the loss of her fisherman husband, Billy. Perhaps the combined song and reading that tugs at the heart strings the most is the allegorical Epitaph / A Song In Sorrow.

If you admire great songwriting, inspired insightful singing, fantastic arrangements, or simply enjoy listening to folk music at its best, then I cannot recommend this album highly enough - pure joy from start to finish.

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.