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Private Label ARRCD02

What a delight! How refreshing it is to discover a CD that is aimed at a younger audience that does not pull any punches - 40 joyful tracks that encompass nursery rhymes, children’s songs and a smattering of more traditional folk songs. Off We Go Again is Jess and Richard Arrowsmith’s second collection of such material and what a deep, rich pool they have dipped into.  For anybody with young children, the musicianship and range of this CD is superb. So often the production of this kind of material seems to be created and dominated by the American market; why should we, here in Britain, play second fiddle? It seems to me there is a dearth of commendable and laudable music specifically aimed at a younger audience that is firmly rooted in the British Isles. No second fiddle here, this work is steeped in the British folk tradition.

These familiar and less well known children’s songs have been given a great treatment with arrangements that are extremely well considered and crafted. The album has been supplemented by a host of fine musicians who bring their talents to bear on the work to create a full bodied rounded sound; fiddle, viola, melodeon, harmonium, guitar, bagpipes, whistle and clarinet all jostle for a place in the spotlight.

Listening to the compilation, a commendable and sophisticated pattern began to emerge. Off We Go Again begins with the tried and tested songs of our earlier years, Ride A Cock Horse, Mary, Mary Quite Contrary, Old King Cole etc. However, as the various tracks move from one to the other, different kinds of material are introduced Sunshine Mountain, The Hippopotamus Song and more or less in the middle, the first folk song Old Woman Tossed Up In A Blanket. Finally, once the folk style has been assimilated, the impressionable listeners are treated to some transitional folk music; On The Moor, Hey Ho Little Fishes and the beautiful Northumbrian Bonny At Morn. What better way to introduce young inquisitive minds to our rich heritage, especially when played with such obvious delight by talented and committed musicians.  

Off We Go Again is an absolute must for play group leaders, first school teachers and, above all, young parents to enjoy, revel and delight in our rich musical legacy.

John Oke Bartlett

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.