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CRYBB - Aubade 

CRYBB - Aubade 
Old Hotel Records 

Northampton duo Gary Painting and Kate Beresford met “between babies” (hence the name!) a few years ago, but only recently has their musical marriage given birth to their own “child”, their debut album, which is a “gathering of stories” comprising both traditional and original songs. It’s an unpretentious and honestly-realised disc, attractively presented, and Gary and Kate’s artistic like-mindedness is certainly apparent, if a little under-characterised. Some of the disc’s best moments come with the self-penned material; Song For Jo (in remembrance of the murdered MP) uses a traditional ballad structure, while the simple delivery of Falling Backwards better enables its story to be told, and Driftwood Bone, with its restless whistle-and-guitar backdrop, tells of displacement and belonging. But there’s a not entirely comforting familiarity about the duo’s writing too, whether couched in the language of justified rant and protest (Tax Song) or domestic drama (the She’s Leaving Home scenario of Tracks).

The traditional songs enjoy decidedly mixed fortunes too, from a curiously frenetic gallop through Reynardine and an eerily effective Bushes And Briars (Kate’s voice harmonising with Kathryn Evans) to a fairly routine account of Blue Cockade (with some noisy guitar action). Sadly, even Steve Knightley’s Cousin Jack feels to be something of a makeweight here. In the end, Aubade is let down by those tracks which just struggle to lift and energise above the “competent floor spot” level, however well-intentioned.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.