Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Private Label

Bill Howarth and Pip Ives are active in clubs and sessions on the traditional music scene in Kent. Bill sings and is an experienced musician who came to the English or hammered dulcimer as a late enthusiast in 2008, while Pip plays melodeon and concertina.

Songs and tunes are alternated rigidly over the album’s 48 minutes. The tunes will please lovers of the Southern English style of playing. The jigs, polkas and hornpipes are played with Gusto (that ace accompanist). Melody lines switch between dulcimer and squeezeboxes. The duo achieves a very full sound helped by some double tracking (percussion, banjo, guitar) and Flynn Sturgeon’s contributions on oboe. All the tunes are paired up, with elegant bridges between them. I particularly enjoyed Sir John Fenwick / Sir Sidney Smith’s March and The Bugle Quickstep / Banbury Bell.

I thought the songs were less successful, mainly because Bill’s vocals are not far enough forward in the mix. A singer of fair-to-good session standard, he gives us Newlyn Town (part of the Adieu, Adieu family) and five familiar tales of love: The Constant Lovers, The Night Visiting Song, The Lily Of The West,The Dark Eyed Sailor and The Foggy Dew. I’d have welcomed more variation.

The album is a little rough and ready, but is close to its roots in social gatherings. I am a lover of the Southern English style, but I see and hear precious little of it now I’ve moved up north. So I’m very glad to add Hard Labour to my collection - maybe next to English Country Music, with Billy Cooper on dulcimer and Reg Hall on melodeon?

Tony Hendry

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 112 of The Living Tradition magazine.