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JULIE ABBÉ - Numberless Dreams 

JULIE ABBÉ - Numberless Dreams 
Anisogoma Records ANIS001 

Julie grew up in rural France and moved to the UK 20 years ago, becoming a convert to the world of traditional songs, which have latterly entered her repertoire alongside the fruits of various other vocal projects involving native French (Bal) folk music and Latin and swing jazz. But for her debut CD she makes a point of focusing headline attention on new settings of poems by W.B. Yeats. Of the disc’s four examples, three are her own, and these are characterised by a warm melodic sense allied to a keen sensitivity and understanding of the texts – although I can’t fathom the persistent typo of Song Of The Wondering (sic) Aengus… The fourth, Stolen Child (Humphrey Lloyd’s adaptation), is Daniel Bloodstone’s setting.

The remainder of the CD provides persuasive evidence of Julie’s affinity with traditional (English and Irish) song via instances of the creative folk process at work whereby Julie often removes and/or rewrites verses to make optimum sense of the stories she’s telling; these new readings prove fresh and invigorating. Also noteworthy are Julie’s a cappella account of 18 Years Old, and the rather unusual melody adopted for Claudy Banks, although there are a few quirks too, like the curious ragged-Latin rhythm given to Fhir A Bhata (ostensibly based on Sandy Denny’s 1966 live-at-the-BBC rendition).

The CD was recorded and co-produced by Sid Goldsmith, who contributes concertina, double bass and guitar, and Dominie Hooper plays cello (very sympathetically). Backing vocals are shared by Sid and Dominie, aside from thoughtful individual harmony parts on Flower Of Magherally (Amy Cox) and As I Roved Out (Izzy Budd). All told, an impressive debut from Julie.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine