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JANE & AMANDA THRELFALL "Morning Tempest" Beehive Music WBCD001

This is a very "English" record, mainly of very old songs with a few musical interludes. Mind you, it's hard to know if this is a duo or a quartet, as Jane and Amanda's vocals gain much from sympathetic accompaniment on melodeon, whistle, concertina and guitar by Martin Ellison and Roger Edwards.

The girls' harmonies are mellow and true and they have the ability to slip easily into, unison at the right time. It's good that younger singers can still sing so unaffectedly, although the chorus harmony on "Sorry the Day that I Married" is rather "folky" to my ears. This is a mere detail - there are some excellent tracks here. "Linden Lea" for instance: that wonderful lyrical old English song has been long neglected except by male voice choirs; I recall an excellent rendition by the Snowdown Colliery choir in Kent, many years ago and it's good to hear it again. In a similar vein, there's a splendid version of the old Irish song "The Lark in the Clear Air" beloved of Owen Brannigan and well worth a revival, even without Gerald Moore.

Jane and Amanda's style is typical of much modern "traditional" singing, except that it's more natural than most. It's also interesting that credit for the "Night Visiting Song" is given to a revival source like Ray Fisher. Maybe younger singers should dig a bit deeper, or (just maybe) it's very healthy that Ray is now a "source" singer? No better source! There's one song from an undisputed line of tradition, and the Copper Family's version of the "Banks of Claudy" is given a syncopated rhythm, which is not at all disrespectful to its origins in the Sussex downs.

Jane and Amanda's view of the English singing tradition does them great credit, although the three musical tracks are largely irrelevant to the whole CD. Stepping to "Scan's Stepdance No 1" at this speed would have caused a few broken ankles in Ashdown Forest. Variety is probably the incentive for their inclusion, but unless this is a quartet I am listening to, or until the girls can play the music themselves, quite frankly I'd rather hear a few more songs.

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 42 of The Living Tradition magazine.