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Iscream Records ISCD16

There has never been anything girlish about Kathryn Roberts' voice. She has left that to others. Her natural tone is that of a mature woman - warm and knowledgeable. That has made her an outstanding interpreter of other people's songs, but now, increasingly we find her as a thoroughly interesting writer of her own material, written in conjunction with her husband, the wonderful guitarist Sean Lakeman.

These songs owe as much to European ideas and influences as they do to the British folk mainstream. They are sophisticated, often rather black and a little weird. Tribute Of Hands, about the foundation of Antwerp, and The Street Of The Cats Who Dance, set in St Malo, give some idea of the scope. One fascinating cover sees her tackling one of Sandy Denny's most world weary and rarely covered songs - Solo - the title track from a neglected album given a new lease on life here.

There is some residual folkiness here in the traditional The Knight's Ghost set to a new tune and a multi-tracked Ms Roberts harmonising with herself on Boney's Defeat, not to mention the black humour of a lament for a dead tortoise in Old, Old, Old. Their best yet.

Dave Hadfield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.