Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Little Dish Records LIDICD002

Nancy’s songwriting skills and musicianship, not to mention her lusciously gorgeous voice, have been evident from her tender duo days with Eliza Carthy and throughout her fruitful musical partnership with husband James Fagan. However, her emergence as a solo artist with the release of 2014’s Sweet Visitor witnessed her blossoming as a songwriter – or better, a poet - of grace, humanity and visionary social conscience.

On Instar (named after a developmental stage of arthropods between periods of moulting - thanks Wikipedia), Nancy’s lyrics take inspiration from contemporary nature writers and employ organic imagery redolent of death and rebirth, the fragility and strength of nature and mankind. The natural kingdom becomes a powerful symbolic framework to explore politics, ethics, sex and gender. Sisterhood, for instance, hinges on the relationship between the word “burqua” and the vocabulary of Arabic falconry to play with different ideas of freedom. Other lyrics conjure animals from traditional songs: the shape-shifting Silkie Of Sule Skerry represents the fluidity of gender in Fragile Water, while Written On My Skin uses the trope of ‘Reynardine’ and fox-hunting to evoke sexual assault.

Solo she may be, but Nancy’s Sweet Visitor Band are the calibre of James Fagan, Rowan Rheingans, Greg Russell and Tom Wright (who also produced the album). Their sound is punchy and versatile: rocking out on See Her Fly Home; lushly orchestrated on Silver Sage and brooding on Kingdom, with its timeless – and timely - message: “There’s a law beneath our feet and that’s the law of land.”

Clare Button

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.