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Private Label MQCD03

This is the second CD from this luminous quartet (Nancy Kerr, James Fagan, Jess and Richard Arrowsmith). While the quartet’s most obvious attribute is stunning harmony signing, there is a lot more to relish in this collection, including some tight-as-a-duck’s-bum instrumental playing. There’s definitely a Martin Carthy theme going on. There’s a jaunty version of Dave Swarbrick’s Carthy’s March here, as well as that rarest of specimens - a song written by the Mighty Martin! That song, The Dominion Of The Sword, gives the album its title (I think). Martin found the 1649 poem in a Penguin anthology of War Poetry and calls it “…a reflection of the propaganda lie currently being touted for all it's worth (again) that violence or the threat of it will get you nowhere”. Indeed.

Other highlights? These are too many to list, really, but I’ve always loved The Seeds Of Love and this version shows off the quartet’s harmony singing beautifully. It sounds to me pretty classically SATB - well someone has a lovely deep voice anyway. It is, however, neither classically affected (i.e. posh) nor otherwise affected - it’s just four great, natural voices, blending beautifully with impeccable diction and intonation.

In all – what’s not to like? I love this album.

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 122 of The Living Tradition magazine.