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SAID THE MAIDEN - A Curious Tale

SAID THE MAIDEN - A Curious Tale
Maiden Records STM001

These three Hertfordshire girls are a breath of fresh, bright, happy air. Not having heard them before, I was keen to hear whether reports of their abilities were exaggerated; I’m happy to say they were not – this is a group of rare ability and their CD oozes fun, enthusiasm and a natural instinct for what they’re doing that should be the envy of many performers with more years under their belts, let alone a number of others of their own generation.

So what’s so good about them? Mainly it’s an unerring instinct for choosing good material to sing and to come up with harmonies that suit their voices as well as the songs. Perhaps the most noticeable trait is the sheer joy and enthusiasm that’s gone into the singing of these songs. The majority of those songs are traditional and they’re not afraid to pick verses from various sources to make a version that tells the story as they want to. They also provide sympathetic and judiciously used accompaniment on a range of instruments. I’m not surprised that they’ve supported people like Clannad and Dave Swarbrick in their relatively short career. Indeed, Mr Swarbrick guests on fiddle on one track here.

In case all this sounds a bit too gushing, there are some small downsides: one of the two self-penned songs, on which they’ve used a guest vocalist, would have worked far better if sung in a slightly higher register that allowed the singer to reach the lowest notes – I understand the effect they were aiming for, but for me it didn’t come off. And that particular song didn’t really sit well with the rest of the CD.

There were plenty of high points – a great rendition of Shady Grove, an excellent Silver Dagger and A Sailor’s Promise (the other self-penned number) was well crafted and presented.

All three girls have very good voices which work well together and can only get even better over time. Their love and enthusiasm for traditional song and for harmony is infectious and I hope they will be around for a long time. I shall watch their progress with interest and I suggest you do so as well – it promises to be quite a journey.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 104 of The Living Tradition magazine.