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SUNTRAP - Northern Lights 

SUNTRAP - Northern Lights 
Private Label SUNTRAP005 

Suntrap’s fifth album was a long time coming. The last one was released by Fellside in 2010. Founding members Mary Wilson and Sara Byers are joined by Sue Graves and John Sandall. The album, recorded and produced by Tom Evans, aims to replicate the live sound of this busy band with a stronghold in the south east. More on that later…

Mary, Sara and Sue have attractive, fairly similar voices. They share lead vocals and harmonise with each other pleasingly. The subtle arrangements include twin fiddles (from Mary and John) and impressive ukulele (especially from Sue). Over 56 minutes, the 15 tracks combine the songwriting skills of Mary and Sara with cover versions. The original songs are sometimes enigmatic, with love, dreams, folklore and the natural world all featuring. Thea Gilmore’s Midwinter Toast is a seasonal treat which caught me at the right time when needing a post-Christmas uplift. The traditional Bessie Bell And Mary Gray is a strange, plague-ridden delight. A setting of Masefield’s Sea Fever is followed by John’s sweet tune, Beyond The Tide. Then there’s Lennon and McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Anna McGarrigle… lots of comfort to take into a new decade.

Back in the day, when I was a stressed-out worker ant in need of comfort, Suntrap sometimes did free lunchtime concerts in the foyer of the Royal Festival Hall on London’s South Bank. I enjoyed seeing them then, and I welcome them back now.

Tony Hendry


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine