Nobody here but us..

by Hen Party

WGS289CD
Not Available

Described by Jacey Bedford from Artisan as English womens a cappella harmony at its best, the HEN PARTY trio consists of Alison Muir, Heather Bradford and Sarah Morgan, three women whose mature, confident voices blend seamlessly together.



Combining mischief with melancholy, soothing syllables with biting delivery, sad sentiments with sheer joy, HEN PARTY are a female folk group rooted in English traditional style, yet sparkily innovative in their vocal performance. This CD, Nobody Here but Us..., shows their eclectic range, as they move from the vigorous opener The Wind and The Rain, to Jean Richies The L&N Dont Stop Here Any More, a haunting song about the striking miners in 1940s Kentucky, to Cape Breton Lullaby, a song of love and loss that is delivered sweet but without sentimentality. All the songs chosen for this collection have strong narrative style, particularly anti-war ballads such as The Wife of the Soldier, Bertolt Brechts chillingly simple homage to a war widow. Recorded with producer Paul Sartin at Wild Goose Studios in Wherwell, Hampshire, Nobody Here But Us..., is the culmination of three years of singing at clubs and folk festivals up and down the country. HEN PARTY got together in 1995 when they did an impromptu performance at Bracknell Harmony Day, and they havent looked back since. Each member brings a unique style to the group - Alison sang in a duo with Sheila March throughout the 70s before the joining the famous harmony group Bread and Roses, while Sarah (also a former member of Bread and Roses) has long performed in folk theatre, and sung with various acts including Appalachian vocalist Mary Eagle and fiddle player Mike OConnor. Heather, a singer with the 70s folk/blues band Hannington Light, brings a lilting, punky edge to the HEN PARTY sound.

The Wind and the Rain
Sample not available
Cape Breton Lullaby
Sample not available
The Shores of Jordan
Sample not available
The L and N Dont Stop Here Anymore
Sample not available
Hushabye my Laddie
Sample not available
If I Was a Blackbird
Sample not available
Sea Invocation/Tarry Trousers
Sample not available
Flanders Tommy
Sample not available
Normandy Orchards
Sample not available
The Wife of the Soldier
Sample not available
Bonny Susie Clelland
Sample not available
Til the Spring Comes on the River
Sample not available

EFDSS

Annie Windley

Heres unaccompanied harmony singing of its bestl Alison Muir, Sarah Morgan and Heather Bradford aka Hen Party obviously have great fun performing together ? their delight in their singing and their harmonies is apparent in every vibrant track. Each singer is aware of the scope of her own voice and confident in what she brings to the trio, so the whole is a series of joyful and exuberant performances of traditional songs from England and America and ones from the pens of writers as diverse as Bertholt Brecht and Mick Ryan.

Theres a variety of pace, arrangement and dynamics throughout the album. From the opening track, The Wind and The Rain strongly sung at a cracking pace and with a clever use of one, two and three voices, to Cape Breton lullaby, a gentle arrangement where the voices blend particularly well and with effective unison singing on the second verse. From the rousing The Shores of Jordan, which sounds as if its performed with a smile on their faces, to Peggy Seegers Hushabye My Laddie, a mothers lullaby, which is sung with real feeling.

The material sits really well together, especially the selection of war?related songs in the middle of the album, which avoids being doom?laiden, while still getting the messages across. It starts with a beautiful chant, Sea Invocation, asking for safe weather for a sailor love and leads straight into Tarry Trousers, sung in a jaunty manner, perfectly invoking the girl with a bit of character who wants to go to battle, and who quite enjoys the excitement. This is followed by Mick Ryans Flanders Tommy, just made for rousing harmonies, Keith Marsdens wonderful anti- war song Normandy Orchards, sung extremely sensitively, and a darker, starker rendition of The Wife of The Soldier, which reminds how war affects those waiting at home.

Altogether, a wonderful album.


Living Tradition

E. Bradtke

Hen Party are Alison Muir, Heather Bradford and Sarah Morgan. They sing unaccompanied three?part harmony. Though their performance is rooted in English traditions, on some tracks they sound more like the Andrews Sisters than The Copper Family. The best way to describe this recording is three well?matched, vigorous, womens voices, performing an eclectic mix of songs. My favourite track is Iris Dements The Shores of Jordan. Hen Partys joyful interpretation is spot on.

Their version of The L & N Dont Stop Here Anymore startled me though, as it lacks the powerful bluesy mournfulness of other versions I know (particularly one by Michelle Shocked). It did grow on me after a few hearings, but not without highlighting an obstacle to good womens a capella harmony singing. Great care must be taken in the selection of songs, and their arrangement; its so easy to degenerate into frivolous fluff. The Hen Party avoid this pitfall, and they sidestep the tigertrap of saccharine harmonies. They manage to be sweet without over doing it on the softer songs, such as Peggy Seegers lullaby Hushabye My Laddie. The string of war related songs Flanders Tommy, Normandy Orchards and the biting The Wife of the Soldier are also quite effective. Nobody Here But Us. . . is an enjoyable collection. By the third time through, I found myself singing along on many of the tracks. If their debut album is anything to go by, they should be a treat to hear live.

 

EFDSS

Annie Windley

Heres unaccompanied harmony singing of its bestl Alison Muir, Sarah Morgan and Heather Bradford aka Hen Party obviously have great fun performing together ? their delight in their singing and their harmonies is apparent in every vibrant track. Each singer is aware of the scope of her own voice and confident in what she brings to the trio, so the whole is a series of joyful and exuberant performances of traditional songs from England and America and ones from the pens of writers as diverse as Bertholt Brecht and Mick Ryan.

Theres a variety of pace, arrangement and dynamics throughout the album. From the opening track, The Wind and The Rain strongly sung at a cracking pace and with a clever use of one, two and three voices, to Cape Breton lullaby, a gentle arrangement where the voices blend particularly well and with effective unison singing on the second verse. From the rousing The Shores of Jordan, which sounds as if its performed with a smile on their faces, to Peggy Seegers Hushabye My Laddie, a mothers lullaby, which is sung with real feeling.

The material sits really well together, especially the selection of war?related songs in the middle of the album, which avoids being doom?laiden, while still getting the messages across. It starts with a beautiful chant, Sea Invocation, asking for safe weather for a sailor love and leads straight into Tarry Trousers, sung in a jaunty manner, perfectly invoking the girl with a bit of character who wants to go to battle, and who quite enjoys the excitement. This is followed by Mick Ryans Flanders Tommy, just made for rousing harmonies, Keith Marsdens wonderful anti- war song Normandy Orchards, sung extremely sensitively, and a darker, starker rendition of The Wife of The Soldier, which reminds how war affects those waiting at home.

Altogether, a wonderful album.


Living Tradition

E. Bradtke

Hen Party are Alison Muir, Heather Bradford and Sarah Morgan. They sing unaccompanied three?part harmony. Though their performance is rooted in English traditions, on some tracks they sound more like the Andrews Sisters than The Copper Family. The best way to describe this recording is three well?matched, vigorous, womens voices, performing an eclectic mix of songs. My favourite track is Iris Dements The Shores of Jordan. Hen Partys joyful interpretation is spot on.

Their version of The L & N Dont Stop Here Anymore startled me though, as it lacks the powerful bluesy mournfulness of other versions I know (particularly one by Michelle Shocked). It did grow on me after a few hearings, but not without highlighting an obstacle to good womens a capella harmony singing. Great care must be taken in the selection of songs, and their arrangement; its so easy to degenerate into frivolous fluff. The Hen Party avoid this pitfall, and they sidestep the tigertrap of saccharine harmonies. They manage to be sweet without over doing it on the softer songs, such as Peggy Seegers lullaby Hushabye My Laddie. The string of war related songs Flanders Tommy, Normandy Orchards and the biting The Wife of the Soldier are also quite effective. Nobody Here But Us. . . is an enjoyable collection. By the third time through, I found myself singing along on many of the tracks. If their debut album is anything to go by, they should be a treat to hear live.