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FRESHLY GROUND - The Good Red Earth

FRESHLY GROUND - The Good Red Earth
WildGoose Studios WGS395CD

Community choirs have increased their prominence and popularity enormously over the past decade. A large number of them have recorded albums of their core repertoire: these are, of course, fine for friends and family or as souvenirs of a concert. The problem is that the core repertoire is often predictable and difficult to approach in a fresh and valid way: attempts to do so can seem gimmicky or even irritating (viz. Widdicombe Fair here, where a definitive singalong ends up more like a display on vocal parallel bars).

Freshly Ground is from Cheshire and is led by the redoubtable Izzy Emeney. The ever-reliable WildGoose has chosen to release their album, ensuring high production values. Its 13 songs include half a dozen traditional songs and a couple of faux-folk standards (a lack-lustre John Wall and an over-arranged Watercress-O); the remaining songs are Izzy originals, clearly suited to their performance context.

There is nothing wrong with the album. However, its polished and accomplished performances lack edge and fail to grab the listener. It’s a difficult album to take in at one sitting. It’s also difficult to imagine why anyone would want to.

Worth mentioning, however, is the choir’s name – a reflection of their mutual love of real coffee.

Nigel Schofield

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This album was reviewed in Issue 101 of The Living Tradition magazine.