Floating Verses

by Mary Humphreys & Anahata

MARY HUMPHREYS AND ANAHATA sing and play their music at home in East Anglia and perform in clubs, concerts and festivals all over the UK. They specialise in finding unusual variants of songs and tunes from the English tradition and take great delight in putting them back into circulation.

Mary Humphreys: vocals, English concertinas ( treble and baritone-treble by Wheatstone & Co), Griffin banjo by James Bowen

Anahata: cello by Fent, melodeons: 1 row Hohner, 2 row Oakwood, 2 row Salterelle; Jeffreys Anglo concertina Joined by:

Dave Holland on fiddle,

Gina Holland on recorder,

Chris Amos on guitar



We perform a range of mainly English traditional songs and tunes in variants that have been languishing in printed collections and rarely performed. During the recording we were struck by the number of textual similarities in several of the songs, such as Darling Boy and If I was a Blackbird. Most interesting was the Waly Waly version that is all recycled verses (floating verses) from other songs. So in a fit of inspiration we have called the album after this coincidence.

1.Green Grows  the Laurel

The tune and text come from Robert Cinnamond of Co Antrim, but the style is pure East Anglian pub session. Many is the Thursday evening that Anahata and I have been found making music along with a group of like-minded performers in pubs with sympathetic landlords. Suffolk and Norfolk still have such places and the licencing officers havent found us yet! This is one of the songs that gets them all singing.



2.Darling Boy ( I wish I had never known)

The song was collected by Cecil Sharp from Mrs Emma (Mary)  Overd in Langport, Somerset and published in his collected works edited by Maud Karpeles in 1974. These two volumes have regrettably been out of print for years. Good old EFDSS and Folk South West have reprinted a selection in Still Growing  published in 2003 and this is one of the songs in that capital little book. I notice that the folk process had taken hold and some of the lines which I sing arent quite as CJS published them. This is proof that folk song is still evolving, and hasnt died as the pessimists have predicted. Most singers  - including myself - change songs unconsciously to suit their own patterns of speech.

If you listen carefully to verses 3 and 4 you will hear phrases that reappear elsewhere on this CD. 



3.Geld him, lasses,geld him / Hornpipe by Purcell

The first tune is a stunning arrangement by Alistair Anderson for two melody instruments. 

Alistair says: If I remember rightly I got the original tune from Oswalds Pocket Companion - late 18th century book of mainly Scottish tunes arrange for flute and violin by James Oswald a Scot who collected a load of stuff and then moved to London as a music publisher. The 3/2 hornpipe rhythm was widespread at the time, and in the 17th century  too. 

Purcell and later Handel both composed in this rhythm and to prove the point we have followed on with an unnamed hornpipe by Purcell that is commonly printed in volumes of easy pieces for piano. It isnt so easy on a concertina and melodeon! 

Our grateful thanks go to Alistair for allowing us to use the arrangement and for being so generous with the information about the tune. Also to Dave & Gina Holland for adding fiddle and recorder to the arrangements and taking the tunes into a different dimension. 



4.Cambridge May Song

This song was collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1907 from Fowlmere resident Hoppy Flack. He was one of the longest-serving members of a band of May carollers which visited the cottages in the villages of Thriplow and Fowlmere collecting money and ale on May eve. Hoppy related to RVW that one May eve having been given so much to drink during the proceedings, he fell into a ditch and couldnt get out again. His companion, loth to lose the money they would collect carried on without him and Hoppy lay in the ditch until day listening to the song as it went further into the distance. 

The words attached to the text had a very  gloomy turn to them and seem to have departed considerably from their pagan origins. I have gone to other May carols, particularly the neighbouring Bedfordshire one, and borrowed some verses. It becomes a much more  celebratory song without the threat of Hell and Damnation. 



5.The Turtle Dove ( Roud No 422) 

The song was collected from Mrs Hann of Stoke Abbot, Dorset in 1906 by H.E.D.Hammond and published in JFSS 3:11 1907 pp86. The words that Hammond published in Folk Songs from Dorset are a composite.The only verses noted from Mrs Hann are verses 3 and 4 in the version sung here. Hammond notes that this is the only major version of the song he has collected. The others were all modal tunes, and heart-rendingly beautiful too.

A broadside printed c 1690 called the Unkind Parents is thought to be one of the origins of the text. Some verses of the song crop up in all the English-speaking areas of the British Isles and even form the basis of Burns  My Love is like a Red Red Rose.



6.Maid Freed from the Gallows (Prickly Bush) Child No 95

The tune was collected by Cecil Sharp from Mr W Major of Flamborough, East Yorkshire on 22nd December 1910.The text is collated from other texts collected by CJS. I love this song about a dysfunctional family, where all the relatives are coming one at a time for a grand day out to enjoy the sight of their daughter/sibling being hanged. Anahata takes great delight in playing snatches of Morris tunes between the verses that are totally in-keeping with the jolly atmosphere that is built up. Dave & Gina help create a carnival mood with the fiddle & recorder. 

In earlier centuries hanging was a public spectacle that was regarded as an entertainment, and that is exactly the picture I have in my minds eye when singing this song. 



7.The Willow Tree ( O take me to your arms love)

I found this song in the collection Folksongs of England ed Cecil Sharp 1908-12, Vol 3 Folk Songs of Hampshire, collected by G B Gardiner. There was no source attribution. I searched throughout the Folk Song Journals of the relevant dates to find who had been the source of the song text, to no avail. It was only looking at the music of the songs that Gardiner collected that brought the realisation that he had substituted a broadside text The Willow Tree  for The Banks of Green Willow as sung by David Clements ( aged 80) of Basingstoke, Hants and notated by R V Williams in 1909. I can only surmise that the original text would have been regarded as unsuitable to be sung by a young Edwardian lady and the tune was rightly regarded as eminently worth publishing.

David Clements was recorded by R V Williams on a wax cylinder and the result can be heard on the Century of Song CD released by EFDSS and it is well worth a listen. I love the Gardiner modification however, and will continue to sing it. 



8.Sportsmans Hornpipe/Radstock/ Whitefryers Hornpipe

These really are English tunes I promise you! We are indebted to Dave & Gina Holland for their contribution to the overall sound on this track.

The Sportsmans is contained in the C19th Joseph Kershaw MS. Kershaw was a fiddle player who lived in the remote area of Slackcote, Saddleworth. Here it is heavily influenced by playing for Molly dancing with the Gog Magog team.

C J Sharp noted the Radstock from James Higgins, a fiddle player resident in Shepton Mallett Union (workhouse). Maud Karpeles published it in a collection of tunes for North-West dances which is where Anahata found it. The melodeon players must have had a fit when asked to play it! 

The Whitefryers appears in Walshs third collection of Lancashire tunes published around the year 1730. Walsh and his son were London publishers. They scooped the rights to Handels later works in addition to printing music tutors and collections of popular tunes on a scale hitherto unknown in England. Anahata got this tune from John Offord, on the back of an envelope.



9.Searching  for Lambs

Collected by C J Sharp from Mrs Bray in Langport Somerset on 23rd August 1904. The tune reminds me of a psalm chant, being in essence only 4 bars long. It is totally different from the much more well-known modal version, but no less beautiful in its own right. I love the sentiment of the song.



10.Fair Margaret & Sweet William (Child No 74)

Collected by H E D Hammond from Mrs Crawford, West Milton Dorset in May 1906.We are not given any of the background to the disruption in the relationship between the two protagonists, but one can surmise that the reasons for Sweet William choosing a nut-brown bride is the same as in many of the other love-triangle ballads - that of houses and land. Nut-brown was a derogatory term for a plain woman, that could also describe a sallow-skinned or sunburnt woman.  

The verse relating to the rose and briar makes the end of the ballad a little less bleak for the listener. It is a motif that occurs elsewhere, notably Barbara Allen and Lord Thomas and Lady Eleanor. 



11.Hares on the Mountains 

This was collected from the sisters Lucy White and Louisa Hooper of Hambridge, Somerset by Cecil Sharp in September 1903. Professor Bertrand Bronson considers that it is a version of Child No 1 - The Two Magicians. There is a great deal of controversy about this which I dont want to take sides on. I am happy to sing it as a  rather racy song with a good chorus. When I  lived in Yorkshire I had the privilege to meet ( and play in a ceilidh band) with Dr Vic Gammon who supplied the last two verses of this song, in the knowledge that as a bell-ringer I would be sure to sing them!

Anahata supplies some subversive links from one verse to the next, bearing in mind that WildGoose is an English music label....  



12.Waly Waly

Collected by Cecil Sharp from the delightfully named Mrs Elizabeth Mogg aged 74 of Holford, Somerset on August 30th 1904. Mrs Mogg, according to Sharp, consumed prodigious amounts of snuff. It must have helped her voice to stay clear as the tune has a very large range for a folk-song - just three tones less than two octaves - bottom F to top C in this recording. The song is entirely composed of floating verses from a variety of sources and has no actual story-line.  



13.Blow the Candles Out

We are joined by Chris Amos on Martin guitar for this song. I learnt it for Harry and Lesley Boardmans series of programmes -  Ballads of Britain - recorded on BBC Radio Manchester in 1987. Chris guitar gives the song the same hypnotic air that Wilf Darlingtons fiddle did all those years ago.

The background to the song is rooted in the old practice of serving an unpaid apprenticeship of three years to a master and during that time being unable to support a wife. Once the three years  were up the apprentice would become a journeyman and able to earn a living at the trade to which he had become apprenticed, and presumably able to support a wife and children. 



14.Harliquin Air and Tom Fowlers Hornpipe

Benjamin Cooke ( 1734-93) was organist at Westminster Abbey and director of the original Academy of Ancient Music. He collected many popular tunes of the day, probably from the theatre and pleasure grounds of London and left them in a series of manuscripts. The Harliquin Air is one of these.

Alex Szyszkowski & Dave Wooldridge from Cheap Jack Ceilidh Band gave us the dots for Tom Fowlers Hornpipe. There is a very much longer version called Tom Tollins Hornpipe which Robin Huw Bowen discovered in the MSS of Welsh triple harper, Llewelyn Alaw ( 1828-1879) from Aberdr. There is a slightly shorter version called Tom Tolleys Hornpipe that is well known to many session musicians today. The version we play is the economy version with a regular 8 bars per part and very suited to dancing. It comes from the Winder family of the Trough of Bowland, Lancashire. They were a noted ceilidh band of the C19th, much in demand locally, though with a rather dubious reputation for drinking.



15.If I was a Blackbird 

This is another song popular in the Suffolk pub sessions we frequent - it is the one I get asked to sing most often.The original song comes from the collection of G B Gardiner. The source singer was Henry Lee of Whitchurch Hants who sang the song in May 1906.I remember my mother singing something very similar to me as a small child, and almost everyone knows a slightly different version. Although this one is a Hampshire variant it gets the full East Anglian treatment here, as that is where I sing it most often. It has verses that crop up in The Darling Boy, and The Bonny Light Horseman and as such seems a good way to finish an album called Floating Verses.                                                                

Green Grows the Laurel
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Darling Boy ( I wish I had never known)
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Geld him
geld him / Hornpipe by Purcell
Sample not available
Cambridge May Song
See description section for notes
Sample not available
The Turtle Dove ( Roud No 422)
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Maid Freed from the Gallows (Prickly Bush) Child No 95
See description section for notes
Sample not available
The Willow Tree ( O take me to your arms love)
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Sportsmans Hornpipe/Radstock/ Whitefryers Hornpipe
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Searching for Lambs
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Fair Margaret & Sweet William (Child No 74)
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Hares on the Mountains
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Waly Waly
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Blow the Candles Out
See description section for notes
Sample not available
Harliquin Air and Tom Fowlers Hornpipe
See description section for notes
Sample not available
If I was a Blackbird
See description section for notes
Sample not available

Around Kent Folk

Mary & Anahata play English and Anglo concertinas, banjo, cello and various melodeons. They specialise in finding unusual varients of songs and tunes from the English tradition. Therefore a lot of research has gone into this CD but it well rewards them.

Mary has a strong voice that at times can be very beguiling and bewitching. The first song we ever heard her sing was Brigg Fair ? spinetingling ? we were stunned.

From Green Grows the Laurel; Prickly Gush. Cambridge May Song; Searching for Lambs; Waly Walyto

Blow the Candles Out (my granddad used to sing it) this CD is a transport of discovery and delight, interspersed with instrumentals -Geld Him, Lasses, Geld Him! Various hornpipes - Whitefriars; Sportsman Tom Fowler, all played skilfully and with vitality. Anahata delights in playing and his snippets of Morris tunes in prickly bush are in keeping with the song. Copious notes are informative.

Dai Woosnam

Dai Woosnam

Now here is a duo with a keen eye for the resonant album title. Last time out they hit the bull's-eye with the wonderfully punning �Sharp Practice�: surely they could not top that this time? And of course, they couldn't.  

But with the decision to opt for the title �Floating Verses�, they made a decent fist of coming close.

�Floating� verses, is their way of saying RECYCLED verses: which in turn is their reference to the way that certain songs can contain verses from other songs. Verses that arrive seemingly independently at the �new� song, and requiring only the most minimal alteration to fit snugly into both the context and narrative voice of the new vehicle. A coincidence? Or more than that?

In the quality liner notes (as usual for a WildGoose album, a cut above the norm of the music industry) we see Mary say  rather tongue-in-cheek - �So in a fit of inspiration we have called the album after this coincidence�.

Well, the first thing to say regarding that, is that to give an album a title in a fit of INSPIRATION strikes me as an improvement on the usual CD-title-choosing habit of plumbing the depths and grabbing the most absurd phrase to hand, in a fit of DESPERATION.

So hats off to this duo for their title choice. But they should be warned: in me they encounter someone with a bit of a prejudice against the very concept of recycling.  I recall once reading that for every job you create in the world of recycling, you throw three people out of work in the hard �real world of business� out there.      

And I don't like adding to the unemployment figures.

But, that said, I have to tell you that this Reviewer was won over by their bold foray into the world of recycling. Their penchant here for selecting some rarely-performed variants of well-known traditional songs, really pays dividends in providing a well-balanced album that builds on the considerable appeal of �Sharp Practice�. True, there is no astonishing revelation presented here as there was with their last album and that exquisite song �When Fishes Fly�, but what-the-heck, please do not read that as adverse criticism. Songs like that one come around once-in-a-lifetime if an artiste is lucky (and even then it helps if they live long enough to almost catch Methuselah up on the rails!)

But from the sublimely jaunty �Green Grows The Laurel� (golly, it makes you feel you are back in The Ship in Blaxhall, with the chairman calling for �lovely order!�) all the way through to them signing off with a Hampshire variant of �If I Was A Blackbird�, the duo do not put a foot wrong. If the last album scored a 5.8 for both �artistic impression� and �technical merit�, then this one too is there or thereabouts.

Indeed, with one track, it succeeds in doing the impossible (with me at least). I refer to track 6: �Maid Freed From The Gallows (Prickly Bush) Child No 95�.

Now, this is a song I first encountered in the 1950s. It used to be played  almost as staple fare  by Uncle Mac on BBC Radio's �Children's Favourites�. It was a recording by the late and very great Marjorie Westbury. (Now there was a woman! A major talent if ever there was one. Best known as Paul Temple's wife/sidekick in the drama series, she was also a divine singer.) And yes, she had a trained voice, but she did not make the usual mistake of other trained singers in deciding to sing traditional English folk song like she had a feather stuck up her fundament!

And that record would be played almost every Saturday. As I recall, it featured a girls' school choir from Bristol. And with that glorious voice of Marjorie Westbury's fronting their sound. It was the first recording of an English traditional song that really grabbed me, and made me fall in love with the Tradition.

But that has had mixed results. Whilst it invited me into a relatively secret garden with a host of colourful flowers to be investigated and enjoyed, it also meant that all other versions of that song were �found wanting� when compared to that Westbury damascene experience.

However, the fact is that I listened to that so-nostalgic song here on this album, and for the first time ever, I did not have an overpowering craving for the Westbury �original�. And that is to the credit of this duo: for the truth is that even acclaimed versions by The Watersons and Nic Jones have still made me hanker for the sweet harmonies of those Bristolian lasses.

I cannot end the review without a word on Anahata's authoritative cello playing. It lends real gravitas to the proceedings: and these proceedings are given added chiaroscuro by the innate musicianship of Dave and Gina Holland on fiddle, flute and recorder.

Although it is only a quarter way through the year as I write this (and thus very early days), I will be surprised if at the end of the year, this CD does not figure in the shortlist for my Top Five albums of the year. If it doesn't, then it surely will mean that it will have been a sensationally good year.

Living Tradition

David Kidman

Ooh, I just so love this CD! I'm almost embarrassed to say how special it

is - but why is it so special? Well, firstly because Mary and Anahata are so

very special as performers, with a wonderful proficiency on their chosen

instruments (between them, concertinas both English and Anglo, various

melodeons, cello and banjo), but also - and this is so important - a feel

for, and commitment to, the repertoire that's second to none. And secondly

because their choice of material is first-rate, guided and determined by

inspired research processes. If that idea sounds at all dry or academic,

then forget it - you won't find anything remotely dusty in these

performances, which are a sheer delight from start to finish. Mary and

Anahata have always specialised in finding unusual variants of songs and

tunes from the English tradition, and taken deep joy in bringing them back

into circulation. That deep joy is so very tangible on this CD that its

every note is shot through with unbridled enthusiasm for the words and

music. It gives us 55 minutes' worth of an inspired collection of �recycled

and reclaimed verses from the English traditional repertoire�, with some

expertly recycled tunes thrown in for good measure. The punning title of the

CD, in keeping with their first (Sharp Practice), cheekily reflects, in a

veritable �fit of inspiration�, both the duo's lovely sense of humour and

their dedication to scholarship - which they prove can be great fun as well

as highly interesting. Qualities which, of course, permeate through to the

performances. For example, there's both an earthiness and a genuine verve in

Mary's singing, an intuitive response and a natural expressiveness that

bears no trace of artificial cadence. Just sample her gleeful relish at the

distinctly racy suggestiveness of Hares On The Mountains, or the cathartic

quality of the triumphant �release� in the final verse of Maid Freed From

The Gallows (aka Prickly Bush) - a rendition which even surpasses the

recent, sterling Spiers and Boden version, if only because the tune Mary

uses is more interesting! I simply haven't space to give honourable mention

to each standout track (every one a gem, as they say!), but I need to point

to another delicious facet of this CD, which is that although virtually

every song chosen might be considered well-worn within traditional

performance circles, and many songs contain verses which have been almost

endlessly recycled from other songs, each and every rendition and/or variant

emerges absolutely fresh from the exercise in Mary and Anahata's hands -

quite an achievement in this age of stale recyclings. The CD's actually

awash with felicitous little discoveries, surprises at almost every twist

and turn; but I bet you'll not be prepared for the shock that opens track

13 - the sound of a guitar! The hypnotic, almost dulcimer-like tones of an

instrument belonging to Chris Amos, one of three guest musicians on the CD -

the others being Dave and Gina Holland, whose fiddle and recorder in consort

bring a wondrous, kind of carnival-ceilidh-band ambience to several of the

tracks. These include two of the three tune-sets which punctuate the songs,

notably the superbly infectious northwestern hornpipe set (track 8) and the

jaunty renaissance treatment of the Purcell dance (track 3). The final

surprise is that of a full-chorus, multi-tracked Mary which greets our ears

on If I Were A Blackbird to round off this landmark CD. It really is one of

the most joyous CDs I own; if you're ever going to buy just one CD of

traditional English music, then this must be the one - honest!

EDS

Eddie Upton

This is a charming and delightful CD. If you read the list of contents you might be tempted to think this is a recording of lots of old favourites, but the CD lives up to the artists boast that they ...specialise in finding unusual variants

of songs and tunes from the English tradition and take great delight in putting them back into circulation.

When you listen to the quality of the singing and playing, that delight is there for all to hear. Mary has a very clear and uncluttered voice. She sings straight at you. She has plenty of vocal power at her disposal but is in full control of that power. She sings like the old singers. She tells the story and you know that while she is singing she has a very clear image in her mind of the song and its characters.

The accompaniments are terrific and I particularly love Anahatas cello. The instrument blends so well with Marys voice that there are times when the cello almost becomes another human voice. On some tracks the accompaniment is provided by cello and banjo, seemingly a bizarre combination and one that might allow for little subtlety, but this recording gives the lie to that. After hearing Mary and Anahata I dont think I could think of anything more natural. I cant imagine why nobody else does it.

I dont like singling out particular tracks, but they have taken one song (I Wish I Had Never Known) from the book EFDSS book Still Growing. As one of the editors of that book, and having recorded the song myself, I have very clear ideas about how it should be treated. It is a strange sensation to listen to someone else performing your choice of song, but I have to say I think they have got it absolutely right. Cecil Sharp and Emma Overd (the collector and source singer) would have been just as pleased as me.

I dont think everything is right about the record and sometimes the melodeon and concertina sounds are just a little too in your face, but that doesnt deter me from giving the CD 5 stars and a hearty recommendation.

EFN

JOHN NEW

Mary Humphries & Anahata are well known and well loved on the folk scene and I personally enjoyed Anahatas past performances at Leigh Folk Festival. This CD consists of English tradition songs, especially from their native East Anglia, with good heritage: Sharp, Purcell, Vaughan Williams and Suffolk pubs!

Marys rustic tones together with her instrumental skills on concertina & banjo work well; marry them with Anahatas versatility on cello, and his many squeezeboxes, add a little help from their friends on fiddle, recorder & guitar and together they work very well indeed.

The track that stands out for me is an instrumental, Geld Him, Lasses Geld Him, a hornpipe by Purcell arranged by Alistair Anderson ? brilliant (Sorry Mary) . ... Or, is it Maid Freed from the Gallows, a Sharp song with snatches of Morris tunes between verses that works very well too? Actually this CD grew on me: it has variety, some really catchy tunes and innovative arrangements that just as you think you know where it is going, it changes and goes somewhere else  very interesting  I am going out now and it is coming with me to play in the car  say no more. Get it.



Living Tradition

Roy Harris

In the booklet of notes, Mary and Anahata declare their intention to specialise in finding unusual variants of songs and tunes and take great delight in putting them back into circulation - a promise they live up to in this engaging album from the Wildgoose label. They open with a Robert Cinnamond version of Green Grows The Laurel, giving it an English pub sing-song feel with some straight- ahead, open throated singing from Mary that suits the song down to the ground. This vocal approach is a feature of the album and its a good feature. Marys voice is strong and her style is forthright, but she is not a mere bawler, she has sensitivity and is well capable of interpreting the meaning of a song. For proof of this, just listen to her treatment of The Willow Tree in a version collected by George Gardner, in Hampshire. She sings unaccompanied, with a subtle caressing tone, one that she repeats in an unusual version of Searching for Lambs. You may think youve heard this song too many times, but check out the tune of this beautiful all-too-short version.

As well as all this singing, Mary plays English concertinas and banjo. Anahata weighs in with some excellent musicianship on melodeons, Anglo concertina, and cello. If you, like me, were a trifle dubious about the cello with folk songs, your mind could be changed by his fine work on Fair Margaret & Sweet William. Dave Holland, fiddle, Gina Holland, recorder, and Chris Amos, guitar, join Mary and Anahata on several instrumental tracks which balance out the vocals nicely.

Mary Humphries & Anahata are steadily building themselves a solid reputation around the folk scene. Its a well?deserved one. They bring us an album of many pleasures, not least of which is to hear some of those unusual variants, or as they put it elsewhere recycled and reclaimed verses. This is the kind of conservation I approve of.

Shire Folk

Tom Bell-Richards

This CD is a fine companion to Mary & Anahatas Sharp Practice (WGS312, 2003.) Mary Humphreys sings English folk songs with a genuine feel of a continuous tradition, as if a folk revival had never been necessary. Floating Verses refers to those words that pop up in more than one song, but the concept has not been over worked here. Extensive sleeve notes about the songs are also on the website. Theres sensitive accompaniment from Marys own concertina and her suitably mournful English finger?style banjo, plus Anahatas melodeon and cello, and they play three tune sets as well. If restricted to just one of the CDs Id choose Sharp Practice but recommend this one to follow.

Sing Out

MD

This is another winner from WildGoose, a company that is doing a splendid job of finding and recording singers of traditional English songs. Mary Humphreys voice (she sounds like shed be equally adept at singing `round the kitchen table or in a music hall) and Anahatas skillful arrangements for two concertinas, melodeon and banjo make this collection of 15 ballads, songs and ceilidh band tunes a beauty.

Taplas

Mick Tems

Mary and Anahata live in East Anglia and are part of the East Anglian pub session culture. They were struck by the number of songs and tunes which, according to north Wales exile Mary - who sang the occasional song in Welsh at one of their memorable gigs - have been languishing in printed collections, but are only rarely performed. Dont believe all that old guff about the quality of a piece is its passport to popularity! They serve up startlingly beautiful and thoughtfully arranged material. Mary has a unique, enthusiastic voice which lures and cajoles the listener. Anahata is a musical wizard (and an empathetic accompanist) in everything he touches, be it cello, melodeon or anglo-concertina.



The Folk Mag

Des Redwood

I have to confess that so far I have missed the opportunity to hear these

well-known artists from East Anglia. I was therefore delighted to be able to

review their latest CD, providing an opportunity for me to sample their

music at last. The rare blend of a classical instrument, the cello, with

traditional folk singing I find very pleasurable. addinq warmth and depth

that can often be lacking when the guitar is the main accompaniment.

Green Grows the Laurel is a fine, strong opening track but it was the cello

playing by Anahata in the following Darling Boy (I wish / had never known)

that soon sent shivers down my spine. It pulsated through the song adding a

beauty that captured my interest immediately. Foot-tapping soon followed

with a hornpipe called Geld him. lasses, geld him and I was delighted later

by Mary's version of that old favourite Maid Freed from the Gallows (Prickly

Bush) It bounced along merrily with concertina. fiddle and recorder adding

to the jolliness of the rendition. The track was soon encouraging me to join

in - just the sort of music I like.

The Turtle Dove brings together banjo. played by Mary, and cello. It is

performed beautifully, a song to close your eyes and to savour two fine

musicians. Fair Margaret and Sweet William is similarly performed. By

contrast, and therefore very enchantingly, Mary sings The Willow Tree (O

take me to your arms love) unaccompanied. Hares on the Mountain cheerfully

gathered pace. taking me speedily along before a melodic and tender Wa!y

Waly soon captivated me with its very pleasant. gentle tempo.

A number of other well-played and merry versions of hornpipes can be enjoyed

later in the CD - Sportsman's, Radstock, Whitefriars and Tom Fowler's,

together with Harlequin Air. With two further songs, Blow the Candles Out, a

very atmospheric, pulsating version, and a lilting If I Was A Blackbird completing the set, I was soon pressing Replay.

Throughout the CD, Mary and Anahata, who between them play a variety of

concertinas and melodeons, are very ably supported by Gina and Dave Holland

These two supply recorder and fiddle while Chris Amos plays guitar.

Altogether, there are 15 varied and very pleasant tracks to ably fill the

CD. I would strongly recommend Floating Verses to lovers of fine folk music

and I will be making sure that I get to see Mary & Anahata in the very near

future. CDs such as this one make reviewing a pleasure. Their previous CD,

Sharp Practices, was described by another reviewer as a real treasure - looks like they've found gold again.

Whats Afoot

Andrews

Following in the footsteps of their two previous albums, Mary & Anahata again serve up a delightful selection of traditional English songs and tunes researched and culled from a variety of manuscripts and collections. Always on the look out for less familiar versions of a well?known song or an unusual but g tune, their material, well-supported detailed sleeve notes, never lacks interest.

The accompaniments on cello, melodeon and anglo concertina from Anahata perfectly complement Marys voice, which caries the same warmth and feeling for the songs that she expresses in live performances. I can honestly say that there are no tracks which fail to appeal to me, but tire fast and final songs, Green Grow The Laurel and If I Were A Blackbird, epitomise Mays unique style and quality. I particularly like Anahatas cheeky interposing of Morris tunes between the verses of The Prickly Bush not an obvious partnership! Though accompanying herself on banjo on some songs, the instrumentals feature May on English concertina along with Anahatas melodeon in a medley of 3/2 hornpipes (one composed by Purcell) and a selection of other hornpipes influenced in part by playing for Molly Dancing in their East Anglian home - all great to listen to, and a real challenge for lesser melodeon players to copy.

Once again, congratulations to WildGoose and to Mary & Anahata for producing a most enjoyable CD.