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Haul-Away Recordings HAR103

Caz Forbes and Ste Moncrieff are a London-based duo rooted in the English and maritime traditions. There’s much to like in the dozen songs and a tune on this album, aside from the plump 61-minute length. It’s been well recorded and produced at WildGoose Studios. Their voices suit the gentle delivery of their material. The instrumentation of guitar, flute and concertina, with cello from Gill Redmond, is there to serve the lyrics rather than challenge them. Above all, they stick to a strong theme of love or lust causing a multi-car pile up.

Blokes come a cropper, one way or another. Sometimes the ladies are the cause of their misfortune, as inThe Whitby Maid, Riding Down To Portsmouth,and Maggie May. These livelier songs are welcome, as the mood elsewhere is often mournful. Separations come through press-ganging (All Things Are Quite Silent), sailings (The Leaving Of Liverpool, Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy) and judicial process (Geordie). Sometimes death puts an end to misfortune. Their harmony singing and their preference for a slower pace are best revealed on Lowlands Away, which is the most moving version I have heard. Young Edwin In The Lowlands is delivered unaccompanied. The title track, from Ruth Tongue’s collection of Somerset songs, is different because it’s a less conservative choice - and because woman successfully protects bloke from tree spirit by taking an axe to it.

The Forbes-Moncrieff publicity juggernaut has yet to leave the depot. A bit of sleuthing reveals that Caz is from Australia and Ste from Liverpool. They have formerly toured as The Raven; worked mainly in London and the south east; supported a range of big names; and are now spreading their wings. I wish them well.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 99 of The Living Tradition magazine.