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Hatsongs Records HAT024 

Many interesting musical developments have come out of the COVID lockdowns – good and bad. This album is one of the good news stories, and perhaps would never have been made had it not been for the need for artists to work in different, creative ways over the last couple of years. Songwriter Reg Meuross had recorded some solo videos of his music from home, and after seeing them, folk duo Harbottle & Jonas suggested collaborating on some tracks. Reg sent them a recording of him singing Lord Franklin and they added their instruments and harmonies. Reg loved what they did, and set about looking for more songs to collaborate on.

The result is this album of 10 traditional folk songs, sung by Reg and complemented by David and Freya. Reg’s guitar, tenor guitar, mountain dulcimer and harmonica are augmented by the duo’s harmonium, concertina, piano, cittern, guitar and bass, as well as their vocal harmonies. The instrumentation is used sparingly and effectively, and the voices intertwine well, with beautiful harmonies throughout, adding a different dimension to Reg’s usual output. It is all done very naturally, so in the main the songs sound as they would in a live setting, and it really works.

Reg chose songs he felt he could play and sing as if they were his own, and you can hear that here. Though all 10 are well-known and have been recorded many times before (we are talking about the likes of She Moved Through The Fair, Lord Franklin, Lord Randall, Anachie Gordon, The Trees They Do Grow High – you get the idea), in this trio’s hands they begin to sound like their songs. But they manage this while keeping the songs instantly recognisable. I felt this particularly true for As I Roved Out - here it really sounds like a song you could have imagined Reg writing.

If I had to be critical, I might say that there could be more variation in the sound and feel of the tracks; they are all very gentle, almost subdued - maybe a bit like they’ve found a winning formula and so they’ve stuck to it. But I’m nit-picking. This is a lovely album that’s well worth hearing… and it’s very hard not to sing along to.

Fiona Heywood


This review appeared in Issue 143 of The Living Tradition magazine