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THE NORFOLK BROADS - Yonder Green Grove 

THE NORFOLK BROADS - Yonder Green Grove 
Private Label 

I am delighted to be reviewing this intriguing CD by The Norfolk Broads - Helen Cherry, Anna Cornish, Eleanor Dale and Daisy Johnson. I say intriguing because the lightweight vocal touch these four women employ on all these cuts is not what you’d expect from such a hard-hitting collection of songs. Their light touch draws attention to the weight of the songs. Less can be more, when it comes to delivering high drama.

The Bay Of Biscay (a ghostly night-visiting theme), Geordie, Lovely Johnny (an unrequited love song), Rambling Woman (A Hundred Miles), Fear A Bhata (an English language version, making it clear the narrator’s lover has not been constant) and Young Girl (The Unfortunate Rake theme) are all presented from a female’s point of view. Fennario (a tale of scornful rejection and potential revenge) can be sung from either female or male perspective. Slieve Gallion Braes (an anti-landlord emigration song from Ireland) and the delectable Dingle Puck Goat (lyrics from Ronnie Drew's version that treats us to a tall-tale gallop around County Kerry) are the only two tracks I would attribute to the male perspective.

The wee story twists that appear in some of these songs are also intriguing. For example, there is a certain degree of doubt as to Geordie’s criminality. On the one hand his wife and the judge claim he stole only one deer from the king’s royal herd to “feed his family”. However, the king’s version is that he stole 16 of the deer and “sold them in Bohenny”. So it was a business? Food for thought. What comes clear, though, is Geordie’s wife’s loyalty and desire to fight to save her husband’s life, whatever he did.

The harmonies (and very light-touch accompaniment) on these songs never detract from the story itself. The Norfolk Broads’ diction is clear, even on the very challenging Dingle Puck Goat. They also seem to role-play a little, with certain voices taking the lead in appropriate spots. The harmonies never seem forced, and the accompaniment always adds to the mood.

I’m now a fan of these women. I’ve also watched a few of their YouTube videos. I’d be delighted to see them perform in person someday.

Jan Foley


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine