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Fellside Recordings  FECD249

I’ve followed Maggie Boyle’s career for ages, and caught up with her whenever possible, seeing her in various musical partnerships but never yet as part of Grace Notes. I could kick myself!

This collection of songs from the trio’s four CDs, plus eight specially recorded tracks, is immaculate. With a great selection of 20 songs spanning as many years, and no hint of filler material, the album gathers together the work of some of the best songwriters that you’re likely to have heard being sung in folk clubs over those two decades, from Peter Bellamy and Steve Tilston to Richard Shindell and Martha (daughter of Steve) Tilston. Maggie of course accompanies on flute or bodhran, Helen Hockenhull on keyboard and mandolin, and Lynda Hardcastle on recorder. The arrangements are varied, invariably exquisite and never get in the way of the songs.

Their voices are a delight: when singing solo each of them has a distinctive quality, but when they sing in harmony something magical happens. Mind you they have been singing together for 20 years so that’s hardly surprising. Despite being sourced from different albums the whole thing just flows.
Highlights? There are 20 here, but John Ball, written by the wonderful Sidney Carter, and which appeared on their album Anchored To The Time, is presented here in a newly recorded live version performed on their home turf at the Bacca Pipes Folk Club, Keighley, complete with audience participation, and exemplifies their warmth and their spirit.

Graham Gurrin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 92 of The Living Tradition magazine.