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No Masters Co-operative NMCD41

“Hum is the sound in the sound in the sound. Hummm.” To the accompaniment of a stark piano, so the album opens and the scene is set. The title track develops into vocals so epic they are almost of Queen proportions, but at the same time leaving us in no doubt about the messages contained in The Hum - both track and album.

The songs are about those in society who have had to struggle against many evils - ranging from a cover of Ewan MacColl’s tribute to the plight of the navvies, suicide bombings, to the inevitable anti war song and song of forbidden love. The show stopper, if that is the right word, is Two Mothers, a poignant rendition about the taking of a child and removing it to Australia, otherwise known as the child migration scheme. Just listen to the words and you can’t fail to be moved.

And that is one of the strengths of The Hum - superb songwriting which is not frightened to tackle the issues. Another strength is Belinda O’Hooley and Heidi Tidow - both emotive singers who can bring the most out of a set of words, who know what they want in the way of arrangements and are able to achieve that.

I suppose it was inevitable that there would be a Nic Jones song on here, given the involvement Belinda has had in Nic’s re-emergence as an outstanding act again. As I scanned down the track list I saw Ruins By The Shore and my heart sank as this was one of the high spots in Nic’s famous Warwick folk festival appearance (available on YouTube). But I needn’t have worried as they have taken this song to another level – a truly outstanding version of a song by a master craftsman.

I think that The Hum is a step further along the path to excellence for O’Hooley and Tidow and it is highly recommended. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that, if it had been released later in the year, it would have been a contender for an album of the year, but who cares, I know I will be playing it for a long time.

And do you know I have not mentioned once that they are based in God’s own county, Yorkshire, showing I am not biased!!!

Dave Beeby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 100 of The Living Tradition magazine.