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NINEBARROW - While The Blackthorn Burns

NINEBARROW - While The Blackthorn Burns
Private Label

Jon Whitley (vocals) and James LaBouchardiere (ukulele, mandola, harmonium, piano and vocals) are Ninebarrow, a new and upcoming duo based in Dorset. Their original material is based firmly in the rural and often wild places they have visited during their relatively short lives. All their songs tell stories based on those landscapes - ranging from tales of Roman soldiers longing for home, to a young girl lamenting the loss of the ancient forest while dreaming of her lover serving on a ship made from the wood from that forest. Then there are the stories based in folklore of a child stolen by fairy folk or of jumping fires on Midsummer Day.

Siege tells of the true story of the attack on Corfe Castle during the English Civil War. An old manuscript given to them by Jay’s granny provides the words for Birdsong, about the sounds heard in the New Forest in Spring. There is great depth of material on Ninebarrow’s excellent album.

All this information, and more, is included in a superb songbook available to download from their website. In the past it would have been included with the package but the quality of photographs which form the background – taken by the lads themselves - would be lost. Maybe this is a way to make the CD booklet more important and an integral part of any release.

Their harmonies are wonderful and varied. They show a maturity of songwriting, the playing is always sympathetic and they seem to have a clear vision of the shape their music is to take. Of course, there will be comparisons made to other duos, especially from their neck of the woods, but Ninebarrow prove they are more than able to stand up for themselves. I predict a successful future for them and hope to catch them live soon.

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.