Link to Living Tradition Homepage





Sleeve not available

Alistair Russell produced this. I mention this in my opening sentence, because the sharp-eyed will have noted that it's on an "own label" which can sometimes mean the equivalent of vanity publishing. Not so here, and obviously Alistair shares my opinion about the talent of this pair enough to have lent his name and support.

Ben Harker is a skilled and subtle accompanist, never flash, never intrusive, always there with the right arrangement and occasional tasteful small flourish to enhance Emily's singing. Whilst many singers joke about their material being gloom and doom etc, be warned that Emily means it -the songs are demanding and the album isn't the easiest of rides, but stick with it as her intensity, commitment, and sheer fine singing will pay the rewards due to the listener not looking for immediate gratification. Of the 13 tracks you'll find 10 are " Trad.arr Weygang/Harker", one other simply "Trad" and the remaining two by Paul Weller (English Rose) and Billy Bragg (Between the Wars).

Emily has that special way with a song; that way that gets inside the lyric; that way that stays true to the song and never puts the song secondary to showcasing her voice, and that way of making you aware of possible new meanings in a song you may have heard many times before -looking over what I've just written, I realise I'm saying she's a talented interpreter, and we can never have enough of them.If that weren't enough she also lends extra texture to some songs by playing whistle and fiddle.

"Australia"(you may be familiar with Martin Carthy's version "Virginny") kicks off the album with Ben's tasteful intro leading into a heartfelt tale of transportation. On "The maid freed from the Gallows"you'll find their version of "The Prickly Bush" is attributed to the text collected from Mrs. Overd of Langport, Somerset in 1909,whilst other acknowledgements to Harry Smith, A.L. Lloyd, Roy Palmer, and Bob Hart (it's his version of "Australia" they refer to), give a fair indication of where they're coming from. "Short Jacket and White Trousers", and "Ratcliffe Highway" are but 2 more traditional songs absent from many repertoires, indicating that they're that well researched, and have created an album of songs they clearly relish, arranged them intelligently and performed them with feeling and maturity.

It's exciting to find a gem like this coming from relatively little known artistes - need I say seek it out?

Hector Christie

Secure On-line mailorder service Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 50 of The Living Tradition magazine.