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BRYONY GRIFFITH & ALICE JONES - A Year Too Late And A Month Too Soon 

BRYONY GRIFFITH & ALICE JONES - A Year Too Late And A Month Too Soon 
Splid Records SPLIDCD29 

It’s both an honour and a privilege to be afforded the opportunity to write this CD review. The talents and skills of both Alice and Bryony as individuals are well known to me from their earliest forays into the performance of English traditional song, dance and dance music; Bryony, of course, with her involvement with The Witches Of Elswick and The Demon Barbers and Alice for her step-dance work with Ryburn3Step over many years, her role of thumping piano in Pete Coe’s The Black Box Band, and more recently her amazing collaboration with Pete Coe on the highly acclaimed CD, The Search For Five Fingered Frank (a study into the collecting work of Frank Kidson – if you didn’t already know).

So, having followed, closely, both of their individual careers over many more years than their youthful, fresh-faced appearance might suggest and the close proximity of their residential locations, my only question is: What took them so long? This is indeed an inspired coming together (a match made in heaven, I venture) and I, for one, feel bereft for all the years they should have been doing it… but, now they have, I’m ecstatic!

The collection is, of course, all drawn from a variety of local collectors, publications and the older generation of traditional singers from Yorkshire and all are songs of the utmost quality – as you might expect from these two. Most of the songs (or versions) are either less known or unknown to me and every one is a gem.

The CD opens with Wanton Lasses Pity Her - a full on duet performance with lead vocal sharing and harmonies of sibling closeness (they are, of course, not sisters) and demonstrating their considerable instrumental abilities on fiddle and harmonium… and a taster of much more to come! Bryony does a splendid job of the vocal on What Is That Blood On Thy Shirt Sleeve?, a cobbling together of two versions of the ballad, Edward, from Frank Hinchliffe and Grace Walton. Inspired performance altogether. Immediately following that is Alice’s equally stunning rendition of A Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime, titled here, The Girl Who Was Poorly Clad, from Frank Kidson’s mammoth collecting work. An extraordinary and beautiful melody. My Johnny Was A Shoemaker, again from Frank Kidson, and all credit due to Alice for volunteering to turn her entire body into a full set of drums as only she can, for a cracking vocal performance from both singers and a nifty bit of fiddle accompaniment from Bryony.

In addition to their supreme performance throughout, you will not be disappointed with the quality of information on the songs and credits inside the cover. They have left nothing out!

To conclude: the intuitiveness and creativity of these two, individually, cannot be overstated, and together, it’s like a bomb going off! This body of work is a clear contender for CD of the year and, for me, of the decade… get it!

Keith Kendrick


This review appeared in Issue 144 of The Living Tradition magazine