Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Mother Earth Music  MUM2011

Saffron’s last record of new songs, The Stonemason’s Dream, was released all of nine years ago, since when she’s been very much occupied with radio and TV work and various innovative projects for Public Sound Arts. Halcyon almost exactly mirrors the pattern and proportion of its predecessor in containing six new originals and two arrangements of traditional folk songs. The latter are distinctive in their creative approach: The Cuckoo forms a seductive and quite cheeky little interlude in proceedings between two weightier original songs, whereas Black Is The Colour Of My True Love’s Hair is an especially ear-catching calling-card that makes for an impressive start to the album, quite uncompromisingly placing its idiosyncratic vocal treatment (Saffron’s silky “mother earth” singing voice swooping and scatting, inventing its own weird and wonderful kind of melody line) over, above and through her singularly restless, edgy Spanish guitar traceries.
Elsewhere, Saffron’s latest batch of songs occupies the special artistic territory born out of the unique character of her local landscape (notably the area around Dungeness, situated close to the boundary with her East Sussex stamping-ground, this location providing the setting for a standout song that gains much from Saffron’s potent bottleneck guitar atmospherics). Saffron also still espouses a passionate concern for environmental issues on songs like the hard-hitting Pity The Farmer and the altogether more whimsical Marigolds On The Moon. There’s A Place derives its inspiration from Saffron’s reading of a book by the St. Leonard’s-on-Sea artist Angie Biltcliffe, while the disc’s supremely lovely title track evokes its subject via some beautiful imagery set to the ruminations of a lazy Tex-Mex-style accordion (played by Duncan Curtis, who’s also responsible for the sensitive, gently brooding musical arrangements throughout the whole disc). The Mary Stanford Lifeboat Disaster introduces its narrative with a sample of speech from a resident of Rye Harbour (the setting for the tale itself).
As for Saffron’s mature and delicately shaded vocal performance, well I’d vow her singing is even more compelling and precisely expressive on this new album than hitherto, and the intense assurance of her instrumental accomplishment creates its own kind of subliminal magic in full accord with her singing. Saffron has here made a most welcome comeback, and this new record should afford the chance for a whole new contingent of fans to discover her talent.

David Kidman

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 90 of The Living Tradition magazine.