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AMY & GAVIN DAVENPORT - A Boat Of Promises 

AMY & GAVIN DAVENPORT - A Boat Of Promises 
Hallamshire Traditions HATRCD14 

A debut offering from the younger members of the Davenport family (Gavin’s parents’ CD was reviewed in LT126), this is an album with a splendidly sharp choice of material: the traditional songs are not over-recorded items, and the list of featured songwriters is very strong, including John Conolly, Stan Rogers, Keith Marsden and Archie Fisher. Gavin contributes two original songs and a number by Nancy Kerr kicks off the whole enterprise.

As the album’s title suggests, there is a maritime theme, and one of the outstanding tracks is Annie Bonnie, an arresting addition to the body of songs about female pirates. Composed by Luke O’Hanlon and Rachel Stalker, it combines the downbeat and the defiant in an unflinching look at women in a male world; it’s a quite different take on the subject to, for instance, Nancy Kerr’s Broadside. My favourite performance is hard to choose, but it’s probably between two of Amy’s lead vocal numbers, The Widowmaker and I’m A-Fading Day By Day, although Gavin’s rendition of The Jeannie C has a satisfying quiet intensity. The instrumentation is simple, mostly just Gavin’s guitar and cittern – only four of the eleven tracks feature other musicians.

I suspect that A Boat Of Promises might be too low-key to attract much notice in the wider media, which is a shame, because it’s an album with a superb selection of songs, characterfully sung.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine