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BROOMDASHER - The Country Diary In Song: Live 

BROOMDASHER - The Country Diary In Song: Live 
Clean Sweep Records CS0121 

This is a recording of a show based on Edith Holden’s The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady (1906, published 1977). The material is performed unaccompanied by the London five-piece, Broomdasher, the songs being chosen mostly for their seasonal connections, mirroring the monthly structure of a diary. The ambience of the former church in which the recording was made – the church attended by Edith Holden – is effectively evoked, but it leaves the singing sounding a little distant.

There are 26 songs in total plus brief extracts from the diary, usually of around 20 seconds – presumably there is more spoken word in the show. You get a good selection of classics of the English tradition (plus some from further afield) all in one place, which is certainly a selling point, particularly for audiences who don’t have much of a folk background. Some of the songs have been repurposed – you won’t recognise the lyric for Prickle-Eye Bush, which has become a kind of botanical list number.

The songs are arranged for varying combinations of the five voices (three female, two male) and some of the arrangements are very neatly done. On the other hand, some of the more complex arrangements (e.g., The Lark In The Morning) get rather messy. The best selection is probably the spirited medley for May – very enjoyable.

I expect the album’s main market will be the audiences attending the show (which tours into 2023). It’s a nice concept altogether and will make a pleasant evening out, but the CD might have limited appeal for listeners already owning an extensive folk collection.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 141 of The Living Tradition magazine