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BROOMDASHER - Nothing To Do With Me 

BROOMDASHER - Nothing To Do With Me 
Clean Sweep Records 

The debut recording by six-piece a cappella group, Broomdasher, has just been released, bearing prominent endorsements from Messrs. Coope, Simpson and Tams no less. The individuals comprising Broomdasher arrive with an already impressive pedigree: three of them (Chris Hayes, Deena Marcus-Jedamzik and Margaret Moore) were original members of the Cecil Sharp House Choir, and they’re joined by more recent recruits Huw Davies and Josephine Swinhoe, and Richard Cryan. All six are clearly very accomplished singers, and together their healthy spread of vocal timbres encompasses a full tonal range.

Broomdasher’s calling-card release is cleverly compiled to reflect both their wide repertoire and the flavour and highly skilled nature of their arrangements (a majority of which are by Sally J. Davies). The disc launches out purposefully with the song that gives the group its name, a lively number complete with clashing rattling stick-percussion, followed by an archive recording of Levi Smith; this kind of points to a connection with primary-school staple The Keeper, Rufford Park Poachers (freshly co-arranged for and by the group with Barry Coope) and Sam Hall. Sandwiched in between we find a satisfyingly inventive treatment of If I Were A Blackbird, then John Tams’ trawling-themed How High The Price/All Clouds The Sky (proudly trailed as gifted to Broomdasher by its author). I’m not entirely convinced by the latter, for its haunting melody is often in danger of being submerged below the waves of its complex shifting harmony parts.

There’s no questioning the palpable sense of togetherness in Broomdasher’s well-oiled performances. Just occasionally, though, the arrangements can feel slightly over-busy, tipping over from folk-song into the province of art-song, where the cultured and consciously-crafted can seem a mite precious without the frisson and rough edge of live interaction. Then again, the latter observations may appear illogical when you bear in mind that home listening is usually the preferred environment for art-song. I’m still not sure where these apparent contradictions lead, since Broomdasher have already gained a reputation for their involving live performances.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine