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THE TEACUPS - In Which… 

THE TEACUPS - In Which… 
Haystack Records HAYCD014 

The a cappella quartet The Teacups (Alex Cumming, Kate Locksley, Rosie Calvert and Will Finn) are celebrating their 10th anniversary as a band by releasing their third album – and splitting up! They’ve done much to advance the cause and appeal of a cappella music over that time, while each of them has also pursued other successful ventures on the folk circuit. The latter, plus accidental geography, are no doubt behind their decision to call a halt. But listening to this, their swansong, it’s hard to imagine where they might take their art from here, since it’s such a breathtakingly accomplished ‘start to finish’ album that takes the listener on a glorious ride through folk song.

The four individual singers perform faultlessly and with tremendous assurance, and the song settings are both imaginative and impeccable, although the listener may even be ever so slightly overwhelmed at times by the vibrancy of the ensemble work and each group member’s sheer unadulterated pleasure in singing. Harmonies are tight, and dynamics expertly controlled and managed. The album’s journey transports us from the rousing historical pageant of Agamemnon via songs of the hunting fraternity, seafaring from the Dogger Bank and The Weary Cutters across to the Deep Blue Sea and a shanty, to a variant of a dandling song (My Little Man), a smooth take on Bernie Parry’s Man Of The Earth, a wassail, and even a wonderful wordless Morris Set. Oh, and at last, Alex has written a song in praise of Celestial Tea! All interspersed with Vignettes and street cries (turkey rhubarb? I ask ya!), and leaving us with a haunting bright smile… I find the menu served up at this farewell tea-party totally irresistible. The Teacups could not have bowed out on a greater high.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 136 of The Living Tradition magazine