MADDY & GIRLS Under the Covers and Pensive

Under the Covers and Pensive
(Two CD Set)
Park Records PRKCD84

What do Shania Twain, Chrissie Hynde, Keane, Sting, Mark Knopfler and Sinead O'Connor have in common? They are some of the artists whose songs are covered on 'Under the Covers'. Maddy Prior, Abbie Lathe and Claudia Gibson harmonize their way through some well-known composers. Not exactly what Maddy Prior is known for, but her wonderful voice, accompanied by the two other fantastic singers, reinterprets the material, demonstrating that the gap between folk and mainstream music is maybe not as large as some of people may think.

Their versions of the songs are focused on the three voices singing in harmony with minimal accompaniment, giving a gentle, thoughtful touch to many songs. Shania Twain's 'Ka Ching' has a chant-like quality to it, while Godley and Crème's 'Under Yr Thumb' sounds like an anthem. 'Bend & Break' by Keane, is soulful and fragile, and Mark Knopfler's 'Great Divide' again veers toward the anthemic. '7 th Wave' is a jaunty piece with its jazzy vocal accompaniment. With the exception of the harsh sounding 'Sheela Na Gig', the album is well sung and interestingly arranged. These arrangements are quite different from the original versions and provide an interesting look at how arrangement can change how we view a song.

'Pensive', the second disk in this two-CD set, follows the same musical style, but retains an air of melancholy throughout. Songs such as the thoughtful 'Sword' and 'Meeting Point'. 'The Finnish Song' and 'Turning Point' have a medieval quality to them, both in timing and in the style of singing.

This album is very interesting and beautifully sung, but a brief caution is in order. The harmonies are often perfect, which can become slightly irritating after repeated listening. The recording is definitely worth owning with its amazing singing, but might not be left on repeat very often. A unique take on modern songwriting and singing.

Jean Price
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This album was reviewed in Issue 68 of The Living Tradition magazine.