Their music is noted for their arrangements and strong narratives which allow the stories to breathe and the tunes to flow.



Variously described as Stunning, Sublime, Scintillating and Spellbinding (a good list for a stammerer), Vicki and Jonny are constantly developing their musical pedigree working from the premise that songs are really just stories with a tune and tunes are just stories without words. Their music is noted for their arrangements and strong narratives which allow the stories to breathe and the tunes to flow.

Vicki remembers the day she got her first recorder and it was an unexpected Christmas present. From then on there has been a ritual 'seven year'itch to take up a new instrument, the piano, followed by the flute, the double bass, the Scottish smallpipes and finally the Swedish nyckelharpa (so recent it's not featured on this album). Vicki would now like to ask everyone to help her fight this urge and prevent her buying any more instruments. Geeky toys however is a completely different matter.........

Jonny can't remember learning the piano, but then again, he also can't remember where he left his blue anorak. Having been brought up as a pianist and trumpet player, Jonny only took up the guitar because it was lighter than a piano and quieter than the trumpet; and subsequently took up the accordion for something to cuddle. Since then he hasn't looked back (for fear of walking into lamposts probably).

1 Spencer the Rover 
lyrics trad / tune Jonny Dyer 

In true folk style this song was first heard in a pub session, the tune that we sing is the one that came home with us that night from the pub. Deviations from the 'original' must be attributed to Adnams' Broadside. The tune was named for Andy Jackson who runs the fantastic Miskin festival where we discovered that we could sing! (another thing to blame Adnams for). 

2 The Sliptease Set 
Jonny Dyer 

This set is a theme and variations with the original tune (the slip jig) being developed as a reel and the as a jig. For technical anoraks out there, although the time signature and feel of the piece changes: throughout, quaver = quaver. (Vicki can explain it to you). 

3 Lavender's Blue 
Trad 

This traditional song needs no introduction. So - here isn't one. 

4 The Cribbage Set 
Two for a Pair - Jonny Dyer 

Three methods of gaining points in cribbage. The second tune was given to our neighbours for their wedding anniversary. (The idea was that the nob was his morris stick). Put in this order, the tune titles sound like a typical folk song about a philanderer! 

5 The Two Magicians 
lyrics trad / tune Jonny Dyer 

The tale of a lady and a lusty blacksmith. There are a few simple ballads like this where a “blacksmith” represents masculinity and a “lady” - the epitome of feminimity. The shape changing in this song adds a dimension however where their equality in magic supercedes gender stereotypes. Words are our english adaptation of the Twa Magicians from Buchanan's Ballads of the North of Scotland. 

6 The Podcast Set 
The Race for Home - Vicki Swan 

These two tunes were podcast during Vicki's Masters research for people to learn. This was proof to all the people who said to Vicki that she shouldn't choose teaching the smallpipes online for a research topic. It can be done! 

7 Sweet Lovely Joan 
lyrics trad / tune Jonny Dyer 

Taking fairly traditional words, we changed the tune to try and reflect the cheekiness of Joans behaviour. The original tune (think Vaughn Williams) seemed to be too grand and serious. Words were taken from the singing of Graham O'Callaghan (and tweaked so that they made sense to us). 

8 Logan Rock 
Jonny Dyer 

Another “where I was when I wrote it” tune. This is Logan Rock on Rough Tor, Bodmin Moor. A 400 million year old granite rock surrounded by much more recent iron age settlements. Makes you think about time doesn't it. (not as in “oh, I've left the kettle on again”) 

9 Sweet Polly Oliver 
lyrics trad / tune Jonny Dyer 

The tale of a girl chasing after her true love by pretending to be a soldier. It's got a happy ending - as suggested by the title of the accompanying tune. The words are from the BBC publication “singing together” (1975) based on the Broadside song “Pretty Polly Oliver”. 

10 Tystnaden 
Tystnaden - Vicki Swan 

Tystnaden - Vicki Swan 
Angarrick - Jonny Dyer 

Wooden flute, accordion, double bass 
A sad contemplative tune for those moments in life when everything has been totally hectic and suddenly it has gone quiet, Tystnaden meaning 'the silence' in Swedish. The second tune grows from the first, reflecting hope; like the sun coming out after the rain. This set is dedicated to Vicki's mormor (Swedish grandmother) and to Jonny's Great Grandma who hailed from Angarrick (Cornwall). 


11 Young Hunting 
lyrics trad / tune Jonny Dyer 

A blood, guts and gore ballad with 26 verses. For the most part, we learnt this traditional song in our Serious Kitchen days from the singing of Brian Peters (and adding our own tune). Since then we have tweaked the story to make more sense - taking extra verses from the singing of Pete Nalder and Tony Rose: Kindly provided by Ken Johnson. 
1
Spencer the Rover
In true folk style this song was first heard in a pub session
2
The Sliptease Set
This set is a theme and variations with the original tune (the slip jig) being developed as a reel and the as a jig. For technical anoraks out there
Sample not available
3
Lavender's Blue
This traditional song needs no introduction. So - here isn't one.
Sample not available
4
The Cribbage Set
Three methods of gaining points in cribbage. The second tune was given to our neighbours for their wedding anniversary. (The idea was that the nob was his morris stick). Put in this order
Sample not available
5
The Two Magicians
The tale of a lady and a lusty blacksmith. There are a few simple ballads like this where a “blacksmith” represents masculinity and a “lady” - the epitome of feminimity. The shape changing in this song adds a dimension however where their equality in magic supercedes gender stereotypes. Words are our english adaptation of the Twa Magicians from Buchanan's Ballads of the North of Scotland.
6
The Podcast Set
These two tunes were podcast during Vicki's Masters research for people to learn. This was proof to all the people who said to Vicki that she shouldn't choose teaching the smallpipes online for a research topic. It can be done!
Sample not available
7
Sweet Lovely Joan
Taking fairly traditional words
Sample not available
8
Logan Rock
Another “where I was when I wrote it” tune. This is Logan Rock on Rough Tor
Sample not available
9
Sweet Polly Oliver
The tale of a girl chasing after her true love by pretending to be a soldier. It's got a happy ending - as suggested by the title of the accompanying tune. The words are from the BBC publication “singing together” (1975) based on the Broadside song “Pretty Polly Oliver”.
Sample not available
10
Tystnaden
Tystnaden - Vicki Swan <br>Angarrick - Jonny Dyer <br> <br>Wooden flute
Sample not available
11
Young Hunting
A blood
Sample not available

Folk North West

Derek Gifford

Vicki and Jonny were members of the group Serious Kitchen and have a previous album which was mainly tunes. Vicki plays double bass, Scottish smallpipes and flute while Jonny plays guitar and accordion on this CD. They are both very accomplished musicians as their last album showed but they also show their worth as singers here with tight, close harmonies, clear diction and subtle tonality.

Their treatment of the traditional songs on the album, all of which are fairly well known, is refreshing and the arrangements well thought out. I particularly liked their unusual version of Lovely Joan. Unfortunately I didnt like The Two Magicians because, having heard it sung unaccompanied by so many good singers, the up tempo guitar work (though it is extremely well played!) in this rendition doesnt do it for me.

Conversely, the similar treatment given to Young Hunting does work although the definitive version of this song for me will always be the one from the late Tony Rose whom they acknowledge as a source. This, the last track on the album, takes a full 8 minutes to tell the gory story in full but doesnt pall in the treatment of it.

As for the tunes, they are all very easy to listen to and are as varied in style and tempo as are the instruments used. I think I liked The Cribbage Set the most but Tystnaden (which is Swedish for the silence) is a very restful tune too reflecting Vickis Scandinavian family connections.

As is usual with a WildGoose production the sleeve notes are erudite and concise and the cover is very imaginative too - I dont usually mention cover inserts unless theyre particularly awful, but this one I like.. must be something to do with the basque.. now theres one reason to buy this CD !!!

Netrythms

David Kidman

Every time I encounter these two brilliant young musicians I'm brought up sharp with gasps of admiration for their high level of accomplishment allied to sheer good taste  somehow I temporarily forget just how good they are, how seriously versatile too. My mistake!... Vicki and Jonny's previous album, Scatter Pipes, was a mostly tune-oriented set which included a few songs almost by accident, yet, spurred on by the reaction to those no doubt (and an increased confidence in their vocal abilities perhaps), Sliptease definitely gives more of a prominence to songs (six out of the eleven tracks this time, and one of them a 26-verse ballad!). Admittedly, all but two of these might be regarded as tried-and-trusty songs in repertoire terms (Spencer The Rover, The Two Magicians, Lavender's Blue, Sweet Lovely Joan), but Vicki and Jonny have thought long and hard about the versions they have used and have clearly got the most sense out of the texts, while they've been unafraid to revamp or rewrite the accepted tunes, to beguiling and refreshing effect. The aforementioned big ballad, Young Hunting, has been intelligently conceived from out of the version sung by Brian Peters, with additional word-tweaking and a completely new, fairly jazzy, tune of their own devising (it made me think of Cloudstreet in fact for some reason)  and it provides quite a stirring finish to the CD. With this new disc, the air of gentle (but by no means undersold) accomplishment now increasingly extends from the duo's instrumental prowess into their vocal work. But their continually developing stature as musicians raises the stakes each time I hear them play, with Vicki adding a new instrument to her armoury each year it seems! Here she plays not only her celebrated Scottish smallpipes, flute and whistle but also double bass now (and piano and nyckelharpa too, although not on this CD!)... For his part, Jonny's accordion and guitar work is both well-controlled as regards the contours of the music, and suitably fluid in expression; he's quick to recognise any inherent possibilities for interesting instrumental development, equally so in the songs where it complements the vocal line or the story being told. As regards the actual instrumental tracks (and indeed the tunes appended to the songs too), these consist entirely of tunes penned by either Jonny or Vicki and show a real feel for appealing and accessible composition in the traditional mould but often with some creative little twists to keep you alert! With Sliptease, Vicki and Jonny have produced a masterly new CD which shows exactly why they're so much in demand both for their own vital duo performances and as collaborating musicians in other folks' projects. A superb addition to the illustrious WildGoose catalogue.

The Living Tradition

Paul Burgess

Another CD issue from this hard-working and talented duo. Vicki Swan is a lovely smallpipes player and excellent on a growing collection of other instruments - the double bass on some tracks is a definite plus. Jonny Dyer is a nimble and rhythmic guitarist and a sensitive accordion player. As we have come to expect, their tune sets are unbeatable - a lovely sound, full of rhythm and internal drive, as well as beautiful melody playing.

The surprise this time around is the number of songs they tackle. Both sing well, and their harmony work is clean and true. Most of the songs are well known, such as Spencer The Rover, Polly Oliver, The Two Magicians and even when there is a newish tune (such as on Spencer) it doesnt sound too different from the original. Their diction is very good - to the extent that they sound as if theyve had elocution lessons, and this, plus some of the flute accompaniments and choice of material, can make items such as Lavenders Blue (yes  that one  dilly, dilly) veer dangerously close to being twee: the other side of the coin is the way they build the gory story of Young Hunting.

Ill just emphasis that the songs are enjoyable and they will make them even more in demand as far as bookings go, which is a very good thing as theyre well worth seeing. However, its the tune sets that Ill be returning to most often.

Mardles

Mike Everett

The best thing to come out of Essex is undoubtedly the A12, but Vicki and Jonny run it a close second. And their music just gets better and better, unlike the A12.

Vicki is one of the most accomplished musicians to be heard today, whether on Scottish smallpipes, flute or whistle, and is a delight to listen to. Together with Jonny on guitar or accordion, they produce great folk music. This album sees them move from a predominantly tune-based repertoire to a greater focus on traditional song. An interesting comment in the sleeve notes tells us how the folk process can be hastened by a few pints of Adnams Broadside as tunes change after an evening in the pub.

The songs on the album are all well known but enjoyable for all that. This is the second album this year on which Ive come across a version of Lavender Blue with far more verses than I remember from my childhood. (I want this sung or played at my funeral.)

The tunes are all written by Jonny or Vicki with the most interesting ones being Vickis tunes in The Podcast Set, which she used to teach people to play the smallpipes online for a research topic during her work for a Masters degree.

If you want to catch them, theyre running a session at The Willows in Cressing, Essex on the Sunday nearest the middle of the month. More details on their website at www.smallpiper.co.uk, where you can also buy the CD and earlier recordings by Vicki and Jonny and with Nick Hennessey in Serious Kitchen as well as Vickis smallpipes tutor book and their tune book.

fRoots

David Kidman

Former Serious Kitchen chefs and now on their difficult third duo album, Vicki and Jonny go from strength to strength. Whereas album number two, Scatter Pipes, was a mostly tune-oriented set, Sliptease tips the balance in favour of songs (and one of them even a 26-verse ballad!). Some (Spencer The Rover, The Two Magicians, Lavender's Blue, Sweet Lovely Joan) could well be regarded as tried-and-trusty repertoire pieces, but Vicki and Jonny have thought long and hard about their adaptations; they've clearly got the most sense out of the texts while being unafraid to revamp or rewrite the 'accepted' tunes. The aforementioned big ballad, Young Hunting, has been intelligently conceived out of the version sung by Brian Peters, with some additional word-tweaking and a completely new, fairly jazzy, tune of their own devising.

With this disc, the air of gentle (but by no means undersold) accomplishment now increasingly extends from the duo's instrumental prowess into their vocal work. But their continually developing stature as musicians also raises the stakes, with Vicki adding a new instrument to her armoury each year it seems! Here she plays not only Scottish smallpipes, flute and whistle but also double bass. For Jonny's part, the accordion and guitar work is both well-controlled as regards the contours of the music, and suitably fluid in expression; he's quick to recognise any inherent possibilities for interesting instrumental development, equally so in the songs where it complements the vocal line or the story being told.

As regards the actual instrumental tracks (and indeed the tunes appended to the songs too), these consist entirely of tunes penned by either Jonny or Vicki and show a real feel for appealing and accessible composition in the traditional mould but often with some creative little twists to keep you alert. With Sliptease, Vicki and Jonny have produced a masterly disc which shows exactly why they're so much in demand both for their own duo performances and as collaborating musicians in other folks' projects.

Shreds & Patches

Baz Parkes

Great title, great cover and an impressive collection of self penned tunes on double bass, Scottish smallpipes, flute (Vicki), guitar and accordion (Jonny). They also shave vocals on a series of traditional songs. The tune sets are wonderful, particularly The Sliptease Set and The Cribbage Set. Sliptease starts off as a slipjig, morphs into a reel, Real Tease, and ends up as a jig, Maltease. I always wanted to write a tune called One for his Nob and now Vicky's beaten me to it, and it motors along lovely. Tystnaden/Angarrick show them in "sad contemplative" mode, and makes a fine contrast.

The choice of songs offers few surprises, Spencer the Rover, The Two Magicians, Lovely Joan, but what does come as a surprise is the tunes they're set to. Jonny has written new tunes to go with the old words; I wasn't too sure about this at first, but these versions have grown on me; it's just a little difficult to shake the originals out of the head. There's a lot of double tracking in the arrangements which led me to question whether they'd be able to generate the pace and excitement of the tune sets live, but having seen them recently at Sidmouth, they certainly can. And should you be stuck for something to do of an evening, Vicki can teach you Scottish smallpipes on line.

Taplas

Mick Tems

You get home, dog-tired and a little bit frayed, and wonder how many more bastards there can be who have got it in for you. You flop down in your easy-chair ,put the CD on and in a minute a slow smile spreads across your face. You are at peace with the world. This is the gentle magic of Sliptease, a work of such enduring quality that you won't want to let it go.

Vicki and Jonny stamp their own individual identity right from the start on the opening track, an appealing version of Spencer the Rover followed by a tribute tune written by Jonny called  Andy Jackson's, organiser of the fantastic Easter At Miskin festival. They create a warm, sunny feeling which is incredibly relaxed, a soothing brew stirred and sweetened by two consummate musicians.

Both write the tune sets that pepper this CD and the traditional songs have been enhanced, strengthened and given new life by composer Jonny, who plays a Martin guitar and a Pigini accordion. Vicki plays an Ormiston wooden flute, a Kerry low F whistle and a Jaquet Gande double bass, but it's the sweet sound of her Hamish Moore Scottish smallpipes that I really love.

EDS

Paul Knox

The latest release of Jonny Dyer and Vicki Swan: Sliptease is a thoroughly refreshing and satisfying album. Not only does it promote the playing and arranging of the good old English favourites ('Spencer the Rover', 'Lavender's Blue') but it also includes some of Jonny and Vicki's own compositions. It isn't often that two musicians work so well together, but these two have something that allows them to play off of each other, but also play and sing with such togetherness that not many can achieve.

Their opening track of 'Spencer the Rover' was 'picked up' in a session that the pair had been to one evening. Set to a great tune with Vicki on the F whistle, this song is great for an opening track and sets the standard of what to expect from the remaining ten tracks.

Vicki is quite the multi -instrumentalist, not only a fine vocalist but also a player of the Scottish smallpipes, flute, whistle, and double bass, all with equal skill and competence. Jonny, a fine guitarist and accordion player, also sings with ample skill and proficiency. The track that I found most effective would have to be 'Logan Rock', one of Jonny's compositions played by Vicki on A pitch smallpipes over D drones accompanied by Jonny on accordion. This piece is a beautifully-composed slow and emotive air. Named after Logan Rock on Bodmin Moor, one can imagine the very setting of this 400 million year old rock.

For me this is a great album, full of little delights and surprises. It is over-brimming with musicianship and musicality and is sure to bring hours of satisfaction to all who have a copy. I would highly recommend seeing these two live - you might think that they are great on plastic but they are ten times better on stage.

This album was a pleasure and a delight to review!  Happy Listening!

Shire Folk

Jennie Craigs

Sliptease is Vicki and Jonny's second CD and is a great mix of tunes and songs. Both Vicki and Jonny are multi-instrumentalists and the CD shows this off well: Vicki plays double bass, Scottish small pipes

and flute, and Jonny plays guitar and accordion. On top of being great instrumentalists, both have great singing voices, shown off well in the five songs, all of which come from English tradition including Spencer the Rover, and my particular favourite Sweet Lovely Joan, put to a tune of their own, and which includes my favourite lyrics "never try to trick a lady, she will always get her way"!

The tune sets vary in style and rhythm and are, without exception, written by Vicki and Jonny. I love the idea behind track 6 - The Podcast Set, used by Vicki to teach Scottish small pipes online. The waltz played on track 3, Poppy's Present, show off their ability to come up with lovely arrangements and Tystnaden (track 10) reveals Vicki's Scandinavian roots. The album uses a lot of doubletracking, so the sound on the album is not what you'd experience in a live gig. Personally, I think this really works on this album and sounds very natural.

As a live act, Vicki and Jonny have quite a sense of humour and this is carried over very well into the sleeve notes, which give just enough information on tracks while being nearly as entertaining as the music itself!

Lancashire Wakes

Everything changes: when I first came into folk music, the musical ability was limited but the enthusiasm was great, singing was often unaccompanied and instrumental skill was limited. Now we have here classically trained musicians playing folk music. As you would expect, you get all the notes played properly on a variety of instruments, Vicki on Scottish small pipes (big brother to Northumberland pipes?), wooden flute, low D whistle and double bass and Jonny plays guitar and accordion. What you don't get is any nasal twang or many grace notes, so it's middle class folk music. Much of the CD is of tunes composed by the performers and traditional songs which they have changed tunes and words in new arrangements. I am sure that they will grace many a folk club and festival in the coming years with much acclaim.