Traditional songs from around the British Isles and beyond: unaccompanied female harmony.
This fine collection of songs includes Agincourt Carol which dates back to the fifteenth century and draws on the work of collectors such as Cecil Sharp and Lucy Broadwood. Beautifully delivered, the album has already started to receive high praise from home and abroad.
Fine Flowers in the Valley
Sample not available
No fewer than three new releases come from the Hampshire-based WildGoose Studios. Of the three, my favorite is Call & Cry [Wild Goose WGS 284 (1997)] by Sue Brown and Lorraine Irwing. The a cappella harmony duet has always been one of my favorite forms of singing; instead of hearing lush chords at every turn, the listener is instead following two separate melodic lines, hearing them both horizontally and vertically, as it were. For that reason, it is one of the most enjoyable forms of vocal arrangement, lending itself to intertwining melody and harmony. Brown and Irwing, who are based in Oxford, do great justice to the form on their disc. They choose mostly traditional English songs to interpret; most are pretty common songs in the revival, like William Taylor�, Searching for Lambs and The Gardener, the last of which they learned from a Maddy Prior record. Child Ballad enthusiasts will find versions of The Cruel Mother, The Twa Brothers and Scarborough Fair. Three lovely carols, one French ballad, a piece of Hebridean mouth music (Fionnghuala; learned from the Bothy Band), and Stockinger, a very unusual occupational song, round out the collection. The variety of material and the inventiveness of the arrangements make this CD hold up under repeated listening quite well.
Another production from the prolific Wild Goose Studios, Sue Brown and Lorraine Irwing are an Oxford based duo whom Ive heard lots of over the years and was pleased to have the privilege of reviewing their first public recording. Sue and Lorraine have been singing together for some time now and broke the embargo on duos at the Bracknell Harmony Day last year when they won the Harmony Competition hands down. The sleeve notes describe them as having their roots firmly in the tradition and the CD backs that up in no uncertain terms having seventeen tracks mainly from the English but including Scottish, Irish and French traditions, all of which are sung entirely unaccompanied giving a bare but not cold feel. The only exception being the Fermoy Regatta (word and music by Ron Kavana) but even that is written in the style of an Irish Sporting Ballad. I would particularly recommend Fionnghuala, a lively and spirited example of Hebridean mouth music (but not recommended for those who cant remember words!).