Sleeve not available
Wildgoose Recordings WGS303CD
It's rarely I'd hear a basically 100% song CD nowadays and, although a singer myself, I wondered if I'd like this one: wouldn't I still need a leavening of tunes?

Well, I didn't, as it happened because this is a nice solid piece of work by a couple whose mission is apparently to promote singing ? and all power to them for that. There are 15 tracks, largely English traditional including carols. One of these, "Awake Awake" features fine harmonies whilst another, "The Builders", is likewise enjoyable, not least for its theme, about the men who actually created England's great churches and whose names are now largely forgotten. Guidebooks usually say things like 'Bishop Clement built the new chapel' etc ? but of course it was Jack and Wat and Crouchback Martin who did, not any proud bishop: as the sleeve notes themselves say of Jack and co., 'Good on yer, chaps!'

Choice of material is wide, from the excellently chilling "Herod" to the happily rude "The Miller and The Lass". The least successful piece, I feel, is "One Starry Night", one of the pair's few modern songs. Davey Spillane and Sean Tyrell wrote it in traditional mode, but personally I just can't see the point of a late 20th century song featuring people departing to the sound of wagon wheels... The final track, "Love Farewell" is very good, however, and beautifully poignant.

There are a few weaknesses, like recording imbalances (?) where Keith's voice dominates. Also, Lynne sometimes goes into 'art singing style', perilously close to vibrato. (I know the 'art?singing problem', being occasionally guilty of it myself!) Also, harmony lines are sometimes ended (as in "Herod") by lifting the final note then dropping it down again, which is clumsy and unnecessary. Overall, though, a pleasant CD worth adding to any collection.

Steve McGrail

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This album was reviewed in Issue 44 of The Living Tradition magazine.