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LOFT SINGERS - The Bedmaking

LOFT SINGERS - The Bedmaking
WildGoose Studios WGS389CD

Over the past few years, the rise of the Community Choir has been a significant trend in amateur singing. It is very much a catch all term which ranges from strictly arranged classical groups to informal free form folk-based aggregations who eschew the word choir altogether. The main problem is that such groups have no direct heritage and so can draw inspiration from anything from The Huddersfield Choral Society to the Copper Family, with detours into West End musicals. Its cause is not always helped by the sensibilities of a certain bespectacled TV presenter.

Under the directorship of Bellowhead’s Paul Sartin, The Loft Singers of Andover Museum have squarely cast their hats into the folk corner. Since their formation in 1996, they have focused on the traditional repertoire. On this album, they offer 15 results of that focus.

Starting with a Morris song and culminating in two shanties, the album covers a great panoply of the traditional repertoire, and comes with detailed notes on the provenance of each song. Of course, a choral performance imposes certain restrictions on a song and it is fair to say that the best tracks here are the songs which have evolved as choral pieces (two Copper songs and two shanties): the version of The Pleasant Month Of May is blissful. However, no song is over prettified or redundantly arranged. The songs are respected, but far more importantly, they are clearly enjoyed.

It would be unfair to expect these performances to enhance the songs through interpretation, but they are well performed by a choir which clearly is a collection of distinctive, authentic voices. I can think of many Community Choirs, stuck with repertoires of spundizzy sixties American pop or ill-suited World Music anthems, who would benefit from lending an ear to what can be achieved when a group of skilled, enthused singers turn their attention to what their own tradition has to offer.

Nigel Schofield


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This album was reviewed in Issue 95 of The Living Tradition magazine.