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BRIAN PETERS & JEFF DAVIS - Sharp’s Appalachian Harvest

BRIAN PETERS & JEFF DAVIS - Sharp’s Appalachian Harvest
Pugwash Music PUGCD009

This collection of some of the gems of Cecil Sharp’s sojourn in the Appalachian Mountains nearly a century ago is brought to you by two of their respective countries’ finest performers of traditional music. Jeff Davis has a gentle style, no flash, no artifice, just a thoughtful presentation of the material which allows the song to come to the fore. Brian Peters does much the same, but often in a more dynamic fashion and the two have blended together very successfully to make a compelling duo.

The accompaniments are straightforward, but designed to really complement the song and the guitar, banjo and fiddle work is compelling. They start as they mean to go on, with one of my favourite songs Jack Went A-Sailing, but one which I’ve never found a satisfying means of performing. On listening to these two, I thought: “Of course, that’s how it should sound,” and I had this reaction on several other tracks.

And the material is glorious. I was pleased to hear the jigs/party rhymes, but would probably not want to hear them too often – they’re a bit bitty and detached. But these are the exceptions that prove the rule. The CD comes beautifully packaged with notes, background information and photos of the source singers, but it is far from an academic exercise. In short, this is an absolutely delightful CD which gives immense pleasure.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 98 of The Living Tradition magazine.