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SAID THE MAIDEN - Here’s A Health

SAID THE MAIDEN - Here’s A Health
Private Label STM003

It doesn’t seem like three years since I was fortunate enough to have this female harmony group’s first full length recording to review. I enjoyed it very much and so was curious to hear how they’d developed since. I haven’t been disappointed.

The first thing I noticed is that their singing voices, both as individuals and as a group, have matured and grown considerably; the eclectic choice of material remains deliciously unpredictable; and the overall atmosphere of this recording can be summed up with words like joyous, vibrant, enthusiastic.

If this sounds hyperbolic, let me give you a few examples. There is a rich vein of traditional material through the CD, ranging from The Bonnie Earl O’ Moray to The Bird In The Bush, and in many cases these have been given fresh arrangements and even fresh tunes that all seem to work very well – the girls’ empathy with traditional material, as well as their execution of the songs, is excellent. On top of that there are songs like Tom Paxton’s Jennifer’s Rabbit and Richard Farina’s The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood which suit the girls’ singing, as well as some they’ve written themselves. The CD’s bookended by a couple of verses of Here’s A Health recorded in a woodland along with attendant sylvan rustlings, and these were the only bits that (for me) were less than perfect.

I can’t finish without mentioning what I found to be the stand-out track of the CD. I first heard Leadbelly’s version of In The Pines (which I think he called Where Did You Sleep Last Night) about 50 years ago, and I thought I’d never hear it equalled. Well, I have – it’s different, but truly memorable. You should hear it, along with the rest of the CD.

John Waltham

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