Issy Emeney is a very good writer of tunes and songs in the traditional vein and together with David they play and sing a mixture of traditional and their own new material. Issy plays melodeon and David guitar and bouzouki. On this album they are joined by the wonderful cello player Kate Riaz.

Issy Emeney - melodeons in D/G and C/F, vocals

David Emeney - guitar/bouzouki/vocals

Kate Riaz - cello/recorder track 9

John Dipper - fiddle tracks 3 & 10

1 John Simpson Kirkpatrick 
Issy Emeney 

As a boy, John (James) Simpson Kirkpatrick had a way with animals, and spent several summers working as a donkey lad on South Shields beach. At the age of 17, he joined the merchant navy and, after three years of adventure and misadventure, found himself at Galipolli as a stretcher bearer in the Australian army at the start of the great war. Most of the stretchers and men to carry them, were lost on landing. However, John gathered together some stray donkeys that the Turks had abandoned, and for three weeks, they ran the gauntlet up and down Death Valley to bring wounded soldiers back to safety. In only three weeks, John and his donkeys saved the lives of 300 men until he was killed by a snipers bullet. If you’ve never heard of Kirkpatrick, it’s worth looking him up on the internet under The Man with the Donkey. Though a national hero in Australia, few know of him here in his native Britain. He was a very brave man indeed. My own grandfather was at Galipolli - reputedly the last officer to leave, and although he would not have met JSK, I am sure he would have heard of him. I wish I could have asked him. 

2 D.J.’s Jamboree 
Issy Emeney 

Please imagine a day in the life of a toddler. He wakes to the ticking of the old clock, plods downstairs and then, like a whirling dervish, he spends his day madly involved in the business of having fun. At last comes evening, and the peace of the sleeping child - until the next morning 

3 The Bristol Giant 
Issy Emeney 

In his day job, David is a photographer for Bristol City Museum. One day he was asked to photograph an extremely large shoe which had once adorned the foot of the famous 18th century Irish giant Patrick Cotter. Sold by his parents to a Bristol fairground showman, Cotter went on to become Bristol’s favourite curiosity and a national celebrity. David emailed me from work to tell me to write a song about him - so I did. 

4 Turpin the Blade 

One of many versions of the story of Dick Turpin and the Lawyer, which may even be slightly true! Most versions place the incident on Hounslow Heath and not Salisbury Plain - we just liked the tune! Accounts of his eventual demise differ somewhat, but our favourite is the one that says Turpin was hanged in 1739, not for highway robbery, but for getting drunk and shooting his landlord’s gamecock. Bet he was kicking himself! 

5 The Mole Catcher 

This quirky, and probably bowdlerised version, is from Baring Gould’s Songs of the West. 

6 Round House Hill/Indian Summer 
Issy Emeney 

The first tune is named after the hill behind our house in Cheddar, where there is a pile of old stones that was once a circular shelter for the keeper of the rabbit warren. The second tune came to me one glorious day in September a few years ago. 

7 The shores of Loch Goil 
Issy Emeney 

A sad tale of lost love set on the banks of a scottish loch. An apparently happy couple are driven apart by the man’s inability to say those all important three words...?! 

8 The Ballad of Ann Green 
Issy Emeney 

Hanged in Oxford in the late sixteen hundreds for murdering her new born baby, Ann endured a long and gruesome ordeal at the end of the hangman’s rope before at last being pronounced dead. In accordance with common practice at the time, her body was sent for dissection, where the surgeons discovered Ann to be still breathing. Believing this miracle was a sign from God of her innocence, they demanded a retrial at which the midwife who had attended the birth testified that the baby had been born prematurely. Ann was acquitted and went on to marry and bear several more children. Four hundred years later it seems that similarly miserable miscarriages of justice are still happening. 

9 The Skies Turned Grey 
Issy Emeney 

John Kirkpatrick sings this song that I wrote at the time of the foot and mouth crisis, but he made some changes to my original words. After an entirely friendly conversation about this, he changed some of them back again! But I have gratefully retained his version of the last verse. 

10 Armchair Jig/Rattle the Cash/The Rockies 
Issy Emeney 

The first written whilst flaked out in an armchair during the broiling summer of 2003, the second is a Morris tune, and the third is the original name of our house which is built on a slab of limestone on the edge of the Mendips. The owners before us changed the name for some reason, but we’re thinking of changing it back. 

11 Bedtime 
Issy Emeney 

Written when our three daughters were about eight, six and four. We found that putting three young children to bed in no way resembled the apparently effortless and cosy routine of the old Hollywood movies upon which I had based my own expectations. Were we just hopeless at it? Probably, but judging by the response we get from other parents to this song, we weren't the only ones! 

12 The First of May 
Issy Emeney 

I really did write this on 30th April. Although it is essentially a joyful celebration of the coming of summer, it was also inspired by a book I had been reading about the hardships of life as a farm labourer in Suffolk in the early nineteen hundreds. 
John Simpson Kirkpatrick
As a boy
D.J.’s Jamboree
Please imagine a day in the life of a toddler. He wakes to the ticking of the old clock
Sample not available
The Bristol Giant
In his day job
Sample not available
Turpin the Blade
One of many versions of the story of Dick Turpin and the Lawyer
Sample not available
The Mole Catcher
This quirky
Sample not available
Round House Hill/Indian Summer
The first tune is named after the hill behind our house in Cheddar
Sample not available
The shores of Loch Goil
A sad tale of lost love set on the banks of a scottish loch. An apparently happy couple are driven apart by the man’s inability to say those all important three words...?!
Sample not available
The Ballad of Ann Green
Hanged in Oxford in the late sixteen hundreds for murdering her new born baby
Sample not available
The Skies Turned Grey
John Kirkpatrick sings this song that I wrote at the time of the foot and mouth crisis
Armchair Jig/Rattle the Cash/The Rockies
The first written whilst flaked out in an armchair during the broiling summer of 2003
Written when our three daughters were about eight
Sample not available
The First of May
I really did write this on 30th April. Although it is essentially a joyful celebration of the coming of summer
Sample not available

Mid Somerset Newspaper

Alastair Currie

They played at Priddy and Wookey Hole festivals but, until earlier this year, the only way to take Issy and David Emeney and Kate Riaz home was to sweet?talk them ? now you can get a copy of their latest CD.

The Emeneys, who live in Cheddar, often earn the "traditional" tag because they play melodeon and guitar/bouzouki respectively, but Issy's songs (10 of the dozen tracks on Legends and Lovers) are influenced by traditional English music, not rearrangements. The production is honest and unpretentious, leaving their singing and musicianship with nowhere to hide, as if they would need it. Kate and her cello add depth throughout but perhaps her showcase is in the pair of tunes, Round House Hill and Indian Summer. The former, a brooding atmospheric lament inspired by the hill behind the Emeneys' house, leads into a very lively dance composed one September.

The hardest hitting song, destined to be more widely known since accordion maestro John Kirkpatrick picked it up, is undoubtedly The Skies Turned Grey, which tells of lives ruined and ended by the first foot and mouth crisis. Moving from fact to legend, Turpin The Blade is a spirited traditional song guaranteed to get acoustic clubs joining in with the chorus. As for lovers, The Shores Of Loch Goil is a lilting cautionary tale of what happens when someone cannot say those three little words to their lover and the tune could stand alone too. The loving theme continues with Bedtime, a great lullaby for adults, that mixes exasperation and gentle humour about putting young children to bed.

Overall, this a collection of memorable tunes and songs with sensitive arrangements and effective harmonies inspired by the English tradition. Hopefully more people will discover and perform them; they deserve it.


David Kidman

Another discovery courtesy of WildGoose is this husband-and-wife duo, who seem to be virtually unknown outside of their 'home ground' (Cheddar). Although they've been performing together for almost ten years, this is their first recording. It centres round Issy's original songs, which have pleasantly turned melodies and often a fairly strong traditional feel (although the occasional phrase or reference betrays their contemporary origin). Issy and David also give us their take on a pair of traditional songs: Turpin The Blade and a quirky version of The Mole Catcher (from Baring Gould), the latter being one of only two songs where Issy takes the lead vocal role. The other is The Skies Turned Grey, a powerful piece which Issy wrote at the time of the (first) foot-and-mouth crisis and has since been covered by John Kirkpatrick (incidentally, here I couldn't help thinking Issy's voice sounded uncannily like that of Maggie Holland's). Elsewhere, though, David sings lead (and Issy the harmonies) and accompanies Issy's melodeon with guitar or bouzouki, while extra colour is provided by Kate Diaz's cello, with John Dipper's fiddle also appearing on a couple of tracks.

The songs themselves possess a kind of old-fashioned crafted quality, an understated gentility and grace, that's both immediate and appealing; several of them pay tribute to characters of local celebrity or minor legendary status in an affectionate and accessible manner (although I couldn't quite fathom why the singer of The Bristol Giant addresses the man whose tale he's telling), while Bedtime is a deft observation of the childcare routine and The First Of May rounds off the disc in joyful processional celebration. The songs are topped up with three instrumental tracks containing tunes composed mostly by Issy; being primarily of pictorial, descriptive or atmospheric character, these provide endearing interludes. All in all, this is one of those thoroughly companionable discs which invariably satisfies in the 'quietly pleasing' category on each subsequent play.

Shreds & Patches

Cath Chandler

Sit back in the armchair by the fire, with your glass well charged, and relax and enjoy... the very place where this pleasant CD has encouraged me to be. A good, clear recording (synonymous with Wild Goose Label) with well balanced vocals and instrumentals, David's lovely warm lead and Issy's pleasing harmonies all splendidly accompanied with gentle guitar, variously sostenuto and lively, melodeon, cello and fiddle (plus other) to make an interesting ensemble with occasionally interesting harmonies.

David and Issy's vocal style is the sort that comes to mind when I think of `Folk Singing'... i.e, NOT a single affectation or even, thank heavens, a grinding of consonants between the back molars and nasal passages... hooray!!! Indeed, there is nothing in this recording to make me want to reach for the `skip' button for any reason. Various tracks feature a slightly livelier pace, the cello joining in with some gusto making a superb addition to the more usual vocal/guitar/melodeon grouping.

Issy's leads are fewer than David's and make for further variation within the recording as a whole. All but two and a half (thirdl) tracks are from Issy's pen, with some sensitive moments of quite graphic word painting included. Listen to the words and there is a realisation of how well constructed these songs are albethey sometimes sad or poignant (gory in one instance!)...the true fodder for songs eh?

Bedtime is a track that, as stated by Issy in her sleeve notes, is just sooooo true ? enough to bring a smile and a tear... I can easily recall these times with my own beautiful daughters.

We reach an almost medieval conclusion with the joyful 1st of May ? another piece of nostalgia?inducing musicality, lifting the heart and spirit with a yearning for that wonderful feel of a time gone by, as I perch on that fence with one foot in the 21st century and the other in that era; evoking an almost primitive desire for the simplicity of the country?life it conjures.

A worthy purchase, so, head for that comfy fireside armchair... sighs


Mike Everett

Issy and David Emeney may be known to some readers as they are natives of Suffolk and lived here until four years ago when they moved to Cheddar in Somerset. They have now formed a trio by teaming up with cello player Kate Riaz, and are joined by fiddle maestro John Dipper on a couple of tracks.

Issy has written most of the material on the album and plays melodeon, which she took up just ten years ago after hearing Tony Halls playing. Davids guitar style has been influenced, he says, by one of his heroes, Vin Garbutt. Kate plays the cello because they had no clarinets left when she wanted to learn an instrument at school. Her cello was made for her by her father.

The traditional songs are Turpin the Blade and The Mole Catcher and just one traditional tune is featured, Rattle the Cash. The rest of the CD showcases Issys talent as a songwriter and composer.

Issy seems able to turn her songwriting talent to almost any topic. The opening track is a song about a stretcher bearer, John Simpson Kirkpatrick, who used a few stray donkeys and saved over 300 lives in 1917 at Galipolli before being killed by a snipers bullet. The Bristol Giant tells the tale of Patrick Cotter, a giant of an Irishman who was sold to a Bristol fairground showman. The Ballad of Ann Green tells of an Oxford woman who was hanged for murdering her newborn child in the 17th century but was still breathing when her body was sent to surgeons for dissection. The Skies Turned Grey was written during a foot and mouth crisis. Bedtime deals with the problems of getting young children to bed, while The First of May celebrates the coming of summer. They all have lyrics worth listening to and some also have good sing-a-long choruses.

This is a fine album from a talented and relatively unknown trio who are well worth seeking out. They have a couple of local dates at the end of the month at Colchester on 25th February, supporting Kathryn Tickell, and the next day at The Hoy at Anchor, so you can get to see them and grab a copy of this CD.

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

Although still relatively unknown on the folk club circuit nationally, Issy and David by all accounts made a very good impression at Bideford Folk Festival this year - unfortunately I missed them! It is most encouraging that WildGoose have already recognised their talent in producing this album .

Apart from two traditional songs (less well known versions of Turpin & The Lawyer & The Molecatcher) and one tune (Rattle The Cash), all the rest of the 12 song and music tracks are Issy's own compositions, though firmly rooted in traditional style. She certainly does have the knack of finding some interesting and unusual historical topics, then marrying thoughtful lyrics with a good tune. The story of John Simpson Kirkpatrick's bravery at Galipolli, unknown in this country but a hero in Australia, is simply and gently told. The humiliation wrought on the Bristol Giant and the remarkable escape from death on the gallows of Arm Green are but two more powerful songs while Issy's own young family provide inspiration for further compositions.

It's not just the songs that stand out. The various accompaniments, from Issy on melodeon, David on guitar & bouzouki, together with Kate Riaz on cello and recorder, and John Dipper on fiddle , all add to the rounded feel that this album achieves. David has a gentle, quite high, tuneful voice (it reminded me of a singer on an old WildGoose album, Misalliance - but don't think it was the same person!) and Issy is able to put a song over well. The instrumental tracks complement the whole album perfectly.

Although originally from Suffolk, David & Issy now live in Cheddar. It is really pleasing to come across singers of quality that I haven't heard before. I only wish that I'd been a bit more conscientious in reading my Bideford Folk Festival programme !


Jo Breeze

Original songs from Issy Emeney, inspired by traditional music, make up the bulk of this album, with two traditional songs -'Turpin the Blade', and 'The Mole Catcher' (from Baring Gould's Songs of the West. Issy and David both sing on the album and also play: melodeon (Issy), guitar and bouzouki (David).

Sensitive accompaniment from John Dipper on fiddle and Kate Riaz on cello adds depth to the music. One of the most interesting songs, picked up and performed by John Kirkpatrick, is 'The Skies Turned Grey', a recollection of the foot and mouth crisis. Many songs are inspired by the south west - Patrick Cotter, the Bristol Giant of the late 1700s, or John 'Babbacombe' Lee (this song is in the duos repertoire but is not included in this album - Doug Bailey). Also included are lighthearted songs inspired by their family, and the struggles of getting young children to bed.

Issy and David are clearly interested in unearthing unusual stories-'John Simpson Kirkpatrick', originally from South Shields and now an Anzac hero, was a stretcher-bearer in Gallipoli; using a donkey, he carried 300 men from the battle line to the beach for evacuation until he was killed. Anne Green's gruesome story and dramatic 'return' from death makes for an interesting song accompanied by David's bouzouki; 'The Bristol Giant' tells the story of eight-foot-tall Patrick Cotter, originally from Kinsale in Ireland.

This is a very honest recording with minimal production, from people who obviously enjoy making music together. It's not going to set the world alight, but is a very pleasant listen with some nice original songs


Mick Tems

YET ANOTHER fine album, recorded and produced by Wild Goose guru Doug Bailey: Issy and David remind me of rural Southern England, of wheatfields, cows and sheep, a crackling log fire, ancient rituals and complete bucolic peace. Considering that Issy is a cracking songwriter, I reckon that she's contributing to the evolving folksong tradition a hell of a lot - definitely a mover and shaker. Of the twelve tracks on this album, Issy wrote ten (give or take a trio of tunes, one of which she didn't write; but she seems to have the gift of penning a good melody)

They come from Suffolk and have settled in Somerset, with their three daughters. Kate Riaz uses her cello as a beautiful tool to enhance the music, like a skilled painter, adding a touchup here and there. John Dipper is a welcome session musician, his fiddle providing depth to The Bristol Giant and the Armchair jig medley. David introduces each enticing story while Issy harmonises - but I just love Issy's sweet-voiced melodeons, strongly influenced by the masterful squeezebox playing of Tony Hall and the reason why she performs today. I'd like to see them gigging in Wales, and Cheddar to the Severn Bridge really isn't that far, is it?

Tykes News

John Waller

Issy Emeney plays melodeon, sings, and writes the songs and tunes: David sings and plays guitar and bouzouki, while Kate Riaz adds cello.  The material on this CD is almost entirely Issys original work, styled very much in the traditional idiom.  Her songs tell stories of centuries past: we have Ann Green, who survived being hanged for infanticide in the 1600s, Patrick Cotter the Irish giant and Bristol fairground attraction from the 1700s, a May song to welcome the summer based on the tribulations of Suffolk farmworkers in the 1800s, and John Kirkpatrick, a stretcher bearer at Gallipolli in the Great War.

Perhaps the strongest song, The Skies Turned Grey tells of the effect on the countryside of the draconian slaughter of livestock in the 2002 Foot and Mouth outbreak; a real clash of cultures between the men from the ministry and the farmers.  This particular song has been adopted by the contemporary John Kirkpatrick; and features a particularly telling contribution from Kates cello.

Issys imaginatively arranged tunes also make good use of the cello: one a dark and creamy combination of cello and melodeon, and another chronicling a day in the life of an active toddler, building up and winding down like Pachelbels Canon. The style of the material and the manner of delivery bring to mind the work of Tom Napper & Tom Bliss; though perhaps without the latters variations in pace.  The melodeon is not my favourite instrument; but Issys playing is frequently crisp and light, Davids fretwork is accurate, and Kates cello unassuming but adding richness and depth.  The arrangements are thoughtful and varied, serving the always-audible lyrics rather than competing with them.  Add clear strong voices, harmonies, choruses, good explanatory sleeve-notes to the songs; and you have a very accomplished package.

I understand the Emeneys are even better live.  Originally from Suffolk, they are now based in deepest Somerset; and this plus a trio of teenage daughters means their forays north are rare and brief.  But they are on the Topics future wish-list - catch them when you can; and get their CD when you do.

Lancashire Wakes

Issy Emeney is a very good writer of tunes and songs in the traditional vein and together with David they play and sing a mixture of traditional songs and their own new material. Issy plays melodeon and David guitar and bouzouki. On this album they are joined by the wonderful cello player Kate Riaz.

For my sins, I spend a lot of time with melodeon players so I can speak with some authority that Issy is a fine player of the melodeon. The rise of melodeon as an accompaniment instrument in the folk world is perhaps due to people like Issy who can play with sensitivity, not a common trait with reed instrument players, David has less folk experience but his playing and singing are competent. The addition of the cello in the capable hands of Kate Riaz really enhances the musical experience and John Dipper plays fiddle on two tracks. The CD is well produced and will no doubt follow them to folk clubs and festivals at which they appear