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Peta Webb & Ken Hall "As Close As Can Be" Fellside FECD155

The title says it all for me. This as close as it gets to my perfect record from singers of the revival. Probably because Peta and Ken have spent much time listening to older singers in British, American, and Irish traditions and are able, without being copyists, to utilise the techniques of such people to nourish and inform their own singing. They do not have the affectations that almost all revival singers have, even the major names. . They sound totally natural and at home with everything they sing whether solo or in duet. They each have a fine voice, Peta's has the gloss of a woman at the top of her form. I've admired her singing for years but have never heard her better than this. Ken has a strong, smooth and expressive voice that he is in full control of. He sings the words as well as the notes. That goes for their harmonising style, it lets the listener hear the words a well as the sound - not a common thing. And they have a lovely knack of knowing when a song may be effectively done by two people in unison. True Lover John is a grand example. By the way, there is no accompaniment anywhere. They don't need it. It would be hard to pick out highlights from this album. Every track is a gem. If I mention Slieve Gallon Braes, Scarborough Fair Town, The Holland Handkerchief as favourites, I'd have to miss out The Rich Man's Daughter, The Bacon Butty, The Seasons, or I Am Stretched On Your Grave (astounding) and the rest, not least their versions of The Blue Sky Boys songs. This album bowls me over. I love it. A few more singers like this around and I might start a club just so that I could book 'em.

Roy Harris

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This album was reviewed in Issue 40 of The Living Tradition magazine.