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SARA GREY & KIERON MEANS - Better Days A Comin 

SARA GREY & KIERON MEANS - Better Days A Comin 
WildGoose Studios WGS431CD 

A few sparkles of that distinctive banjo; a few notes of that unique voice and this can only be one person - Sara!

This comes from a different label for this mother and son combination, but like nearly all their predecessors this is on a British label from two artists who now live in the USA. Unusually, there is no guest fiddler this time and in some ways this adds to the strength of this offering.
What is certain is that every aspect of the music - choice of material, singing and musicianship - is excellent and the close familial empathy of their performance is an enduring delight. Their voices have different qualities but the blend when they sing together is very pleasing.

There are so many highlights. Kieron is in particularly good voice here and his solo blues this time is Steamboat Whistle and the sense of space and commitment make this a high point. Sara has that knack of choosing items that bring out the beauty of her voice and Derroll Adams' The Sky is one of these, one from her huge repertoire that is often included in her live performances. The songs are mainly traditional, but old or modern, a narrative quality predominates leaving the listener with the feeling of a story well told.

Despite her enormous contribution to the folk scene on both sides of the pond, when it comes to awards from EFDSS, BBC Folk Awards etc, Sara somehow misses out. Rather like the late Tom Paley, she seems to suffer through being an American who has spent most of her life in the UK - both these great artists and major contributors miss out. In both cases it is a grave omission.

Vic Smith


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine