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VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER - Twelve Months And A Day 

VICKI SWAN & JONNY DYER - Twelve Months And A Day 
WetFoot Music WFM190201 

Vicki and Jonny’s albums typically span traditional and contemporary folksong, anglo and Swedish and self-penned tunes, brimming over with enthusiasm and entirely unassuming musicianship.

Ostensibly, the theme of their latest CD is Vicki and Jonny themselves; it delivers a collection of tracks that together might represent a typical Twelve Months And A Day in their working lives as musicians, showcasing their enviably all-encompassing versatility. Into each musical activity they throw themselves wholeheartedly, effortlessly and naturally carrying their audience along with them. The album’s intelligently planned sequence moves from invigorating tune-sets that might incorporate session jigs and tunes based on Swedish forms like the långdans and gammalharpa, through the classical purity of the melancholy Elegy to a jolly rendition of the medieval Palistinalied. And that’s only the instrumental tracks! The vocal selections run the gamut from original settings of a William Morris romance and a spooky Fitz James O’Brien tale to a 15th century carol, an American Civil War song and the convivial, inclusive Folk Club Song.

Another vital ingredient in Vicki and Jonny’s musical endeavours is their knack of creatively conjoining songs with apposite tunes, as on the rollicking old-time-flavoured Fiddling About melding with nonsense song Grandpa Joe, and the graceful dance-floor waltzery of Dance All Night set within a contra-jig framework. Another (very audible) binding thread of the album is the mesmerising sound of the nyckelharpa, of which Vicki plays no fewer than three sub-species with abundant flair and authority. The tally of other instruments played by both Vicki and Jonny (both on this album and in live performance) is astounding too.

So, if you’ve not yet experienced the charismatic Swan-Dyer partnership, then this is an ideal place to start. And even if you already own any (or all) of their previous albums, you’ll still want a copy of this one, for Vicki and Jonny retain the capacity to surprise while satisfying the most hard-to-please listeners with their accessible, fresh and entertaining brand of music-making. And by the way, the package is also abundantly appealing. What’s not to like?

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 129 of The Living Tradition magazine