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ANNA SHANNON - A Celebration Of Old England

ANNA SHANNON - A Celebration Of Old England
WildGoose Records WGS408CD

This album is a delightful showcase for the song writing of this multi-instrumentalist, a native of North Yorkshire, but familiar to me from successive Fylde Folk Festivals, where I’ve seen her give some blinding performances. However, she really comes into her own on this recording, which gives us the opportunity to hear her many instrumental talents overlaid with care by the producer (Doug Bailey). Of the 14 songs, 13 are self-penned (the exception being a new take on the Trad. Gaudete - yes, the one that Steeleye had a Christmas hit with all those years ago).

The subject matter is almost exclusively rural – hunting, poaching, farming, travellers and country crafts. Anna has a vocal delivery that shouts its ethnic credentials and all of her songs sound like they have been handed down over generations, rather than contemporary. The Traveller’s Ways is a prime example, but I could just as easily have cited Polly Cooper or The Sheep They Bide - in fact any of her compositions.

Her competence on a multitude of instruments – and what must have been countless hours of over-dubbing – has resulted in an album that is both a labour of love and a tangible demonstration of the essence of this artiste, summing her up in a melodic nutshell. A gem.

Grem Devlin

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This album was reviewed in Issue 105 of The Living Tradition magazine.