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ANGE HARDY - Esteesee

ANGE HARDY - Esteesee
Story Records STREC1659

This is a themed recording by one of the finest voices to come out of the West Country (or anywhere else for that matter) in a long time. The album looks at the life and work of one of the great Romantic poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (STC – see?) through the medium of a series of songs composed by Ange Hardy for this Arts Council-supported project. Some of the songs incorporate elements of Coleridge’s poetry, and there’s even a spoken recital of Kubla Khan. Ange is supported by an incredibly able cast of no less than 14 musicians and backing vocalists, whose accompaniments and vocal contributions are never less than excellent.

So how well does this CD capture its subject? I think the answer is, by and large, fairly well. There are some well written pieces – they sound better when they’re sung than they read in the first-rate booklet that accompanies the recording, as one would expect. The booklet itself adds valuable and relevant background to the songs, as well as linking the recording to the Coleridge Way that runs from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth. Most of the songs are sharp, bright things that jog along at a reasonable pace and are always pleasant and easy to listen to, although to my ear, the pace wasn’t always appropriate to the subject matter. This applied especially in the track inspired by the “water, water everywhere” passage in the Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, or in the somewhat bouncy Elegy For Coleridge that concludes the album.

But take no notice of me – I’m a grumpy and probably anal old so-and-so who used to be able to recite the Mariner from end to end without prompting, which has to have had an influence on my views. This is a very good album, which should be enjoyed on several levels – for its singing, musicianship and its evocation of a great man and the superb country that he chose to live in.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 110 of The Living Tradition magazine.