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Lucy Wan
NOE Records NOE03.

Back in 1995, Chris Sherburn (Englishman) and Denny Bartley (Irishman) took the name of an Irish tune for their debut album, Last Night’s Fun. Then they named their band after the album. They toured and toured, and became one of the hardest travelling and most exciting acts on the folk scene. Chris’s anglo concertina snapped and crackled as he strafed the audiences with his eyes. Denny sang his lungs out. In between the songs and tunes they put up some fierce banter, often at the expense of uillean piper Nick Scott who joined after a few years. Nobody forgot a Last Night’s Fun gig.

The band finished in 2008, but Chris and Denny are still touring and have recorded this 44-minute album as a duo again. Their love of Irish songs and tunes is again paramount. Shane McGowen’s Rainy Night In Soho is a strong opener:  Denny’s fervent vocals are complemented by Chris’s spare, sweet accompaniment which develops into a slip jig. Brendan Behan’s The Auld Triangle is taken at a stately pace. Sheep Stealers comes from the southern English tradition (I think), but they follow the words of the Voice Squad’s version and use the tune The Humours of Tullycrine. Bantry Girl’s Lament is combined with Charlie Mckerron’s Bulgarian Red played as a slow reel. Chris can be an explosive player when he wants to be, but his subtle and sympathetic accompaniment is to the forefront on this album. Denny’s singing can never be described as subtle, but it carries a raw emotional power. He bravely closes the album with an unaccompanied version of the Child ballad Lucy Wan, featuring incest, decapitation and exile. It’s very fine.

This is a duo who understand each other’s strengths perfectly after countless miles on the road. They have a passion for the music, and they know how to express it.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 85 of The Living Tradition magazine.