All in a Garden Green

by The Askew Sisters

Hazel and Emily Askews sheer energy and musicality is quickly leading them to become one of the up and coming acts of the English music scene, with their foot stomping tunes, and powerful songs and ballads. They respect the tradition whilst demonstrating awareness of contemporary styles, and play with an enjoyment and love for the music that is infectious.

Emily Askew Fiddle, Backing Vocals, Cello

Hazel Askew Vocals, Melodeon



Emily and Hazel, born and bred in London, grew up around folk music through annual family holidays to Sidmouth Folk Festival. Emily started off as a classical cello, recorder and piano player, but decided learn the fiddle when she realised festivals didnt provide many workshops for her other instruments! Twas painful at first, but the family (and neighbours) managed to get through it! She is now studying early music at Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she has also started to learn the medieval fiddle and baroque oboe. Hazel also started playing classical flute, harp and piano but then decided she would like to play a big, loud, Englishy instrument and taught herself the melodeon, much to the dismay of everyone who had to listen to her practising! In the last few years she decided to take up singing (including the odd bit of opera!) and enjoys researching old ballads and songs. She will also go on to study music.

Now performing together as a duo at festivals and clubs, they've clearly impressed folks, building up experience by playing at some of the countries top festivals and folk clubs. In the last few years they have also danced and played for morris, rapper sword and Appalachian teams.

1 Adieu to Old England 
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2 All in a Garden Green/Horses Bransle 
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3 The Old Virginia Lowlands 
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4 Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear 
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4 High Germany 
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5 Dorrington Lads 
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6 The Lover's Ghost 
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7 The Banks of the Sweet Primroses 
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8 Blenheim House/ Malt Has Come Down 
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9 Bedlam City 
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10 A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded 
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11 The Unfortunate Tailor/Shaalds of Foula 
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12 Three Drunken Maidens 
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Adieu to Old England
All in a Garden Green/Horses Bransle
Sample not available
The Old Virginia Lowlands
Sample not available
Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear
High Germany
Sample not available
Dorrington Lads
Sample not available
The Lover's Ghost
Sample not available
The Banks of the Sweet Primroses
Sample not available
Blenheim House/ Malt Has Come Down
Bedlam City
Sample not available
A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded
Sample not available
The Unfortunate Tailor/Shaalds of Foula
Sample not available
Three Drunken Maidens
Sample not available

Hot Press

Sarah McQuaid

Long live Sidmouth Folk Week! The two fresh-faced young lassies pictured on the cover of All In A Garden Green credit their musical development to the annual family holiday at that venerable folk institution, where they both started off playing the recorder in the Childrens Ceilidh and workshops. Emily Askew later moved on to the cello and then the fiddle, while her sister Hazel took up the melodeon. The pair released a well-received EP in 2005 and have now made their first full-length album. On the title track, the pair take turns playing the melody and vamping double- and treble-stopped accompaniment for a pairing of two dance tunes, the first from John Playfords 1651 Collection and the second dating back to the 1200s. The feel is nicely spare, and the same goes for songs like The Old Virginia Lowlands, an unusual version of The Golden Vanity that particularly lends itself to the fiddle-and-melodeon combination, and A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded. The latter, featuring some nifty pizzicato work from Emily, is also one of just two tracks on which both singers sing. Mostly, Hazel handles the vocals, and very good she is, too, but Emilys unusual harmonies add an element that could do with more exposure.

Seven/Ten


Folk Northwest

Derek Gifford

Emily and Hazel Askew are among the many up and coming younger acts in the English folk scene. One of my criticisms of much of the younger set has always been that, while most of them are unquestionably superb musicians, the song side of the tradition is quite often at best given half hearted recognition and at worst weak rendition.

This is definitely not the case with the Askews. The opening track Adieu to Old England exemplifies Hazels strong vocals with Emilys close harmonies as well as some nifty musicianship. Emily plays fiddle and cello and Hazel melodeon with a lovely, lively lilting vibrancy and enthusiasm that immediately becomes infectious.

There are some very well crafted and entertaining performances of a number of well known traditional songs including The Old Virginia Lowlands, High Germany, The Banks of the Sweet Primroses and Three Drunken Maidens. However, it is Hazels fine a capella solo performance of The Lovers Ghost and their sensitive duo performance of Fare Thee Well, My Dearest Dear that stand out from the rest of the better known songs. The tunes, many of them from the Playford collection, are also very well performed with a surprising maturity. I particularly liked the linking of Unfortunate Tailor to The Shaalds of Foula to both of which the girls added some interesting variations including a subtle change of tempo at one point. The lively

All in a Garden Green is the tune that is used for the title track of the CD.

Erudite and informative sleeve notes confirm that the lasses know well and respect our wonderful English traditional music; couple this with a very attractive cover designed by Hilary Bix from Bideford and you have the perfect marketing package with musical content to match. Highly recommended by this old un!

The Living Tradition

Tony Hendry

Hazel and Emily Askew are young Londoners trained in classical music who are very much at home with the spirit of the folk tradition, as they proved when I saw them at the Islington Folk Club last year. Accompanied by Bella Hardy, other friends and a group of young teenagers with whom they had been working at a local school, they gave us a great party night of song, dance, tunes and hope for the future.

This 64 minute CD is a welcome debut. Hazel (melodeon and vocals) and Emily (fiddle and cello) combine with the empathy you'd expect from sisters to give us ten songs and four sets of tunes which never stray far from the English tradition. The arrangements are simple but effective, with a strong sense of dynamics. The liner notes are careful to give sources, whether they are old recordings, song books or albums by contemporaries.

Hazel's singing is clear and expressive - a good voice in the upper register though not outstanding. The songs are mostly familiar, but varied enough to show her range. From an unaccompanied Lover's Ghost to the jollity of Three Drunken Maidens, she handles all with confidence. Standards include The Old Virginia Lowlands, High Germany and The Banks of the Sweet Primroses.

The tunes are very strong. The title track is a Playford tune which is matched with Horses Bransle. Dorrington Lads is a demanding 14 part pipe tune which is perfectly delivered. Blenheim House is a Kynaston country dance, while The Unfortunate Tailor / The Shaalds of Foulla are jigs from their experience of playing and dancing for Morris sides. Hazel and Emily are engaging and talented young ladies who are getting things right. They look set to adorn the living tradition for years to come. Vote with bums on seats and hands in wallets.

Mardles

Mike Everett

This is another CD that Id been waiting for with great anticipation, having heard Emily and Hazel Askew in sessions, at the Milkmaid Folk Club and Chippenham and Whitby folk festivals and having enjoyed their six track EP. If anything, this album has exceeded my expectations.

Emily and Hazel have grown up with folk music through their annual family holidays to Sidmouth Festival and made their families and neighbours endure the pain of them learning to play the fiddle and melodeon. They have both danced and played for morris, Appalachian and rapper, and for the past year or so they have been playing together as a duo.

This new album has a greater emphasis on songs compared to their earlier EP, drawing material from original sources to modern collections including The Penguin Book Of English Folk Sings and from singers such as Frankie Armstrong and old LPs like A Taste Of Ale. There seems to be resurgence in artists performing The Golden Vanity this year and the Askew Sisters add their take on it with The Old Virginia Lowlands from Stan Hugill via Brass Monkey. Another song coming back into fashion is Three Drunken Maidens, also included here. There are two many high spots to pick out any favourites but I do like the tune, The Unfortunate Tailor, which is coupled here with The Shaalds of Foula, and their version of A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded.

Book your tickets now for their appearance at the Everyman Folk Club next March as it ought to be a sell out.

fRoots

David Kidman

After winning the New Roots competition in 2005, Emily and Hazel released a 'taster' EP, impressing with their upfront, though always respectful take on the English tradition. Since then, they've been dubbed "the sisters of stomp" (even tagged a "female Spiers & Boden"), no doubt principally due to the infectious pumping energy that characterises their performance, although there's a certain attractive journalistic convenience to that epithet, and sure, their basic instrumental combination (fiddle and melodeon) provides a ready-made direct comparison, but it's just as well that the sisters' own personal musicality and dynamism proves strongly individual.

Indeed, you might well find the invigorating nature of their music all the more surprising bearing in mind that both sisters are classically trained (flute, piano, cello, recorder), so playing for dance sides has evidently fostered their vigorous, lively, rhythmically conscious style.

The breezy robustness of their musicianship is demonstrated in the joyous way the two parts switch around, colluding and colliding during the course of a tune set, adeptly maintaining listener interest while keeping feet tapping. But the sisters' proven instrumental skills are only half of the story, being thrown into relief by Hazel's bold, assured, abundantly confident singing voice, which appears on all but three of the disc's fourteen tracks, which represent a well-chosen selection of traditional material, generally in interesting versions. This includes a stirring reworking of High Germany, an urgently driven A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded, a plaintive Bedlam City (shame this is only a fragment), a sensitive Fare Thee Well My Dearest Dear, and a delightful traditional Northumbrian lullaby (that's the bonus track).

Only The Lover's Ghost is sung unaccompanied - it's a wise choice, even if Hazel's interpretation may currently lack the full gravitas that a deeper understanding will in time bring. Aside from a slight tendency to over-aspirate at times, and an element of forcing the humour on Three Drunken Maidens, Hazel can't do wrong, while Emily's selective use of vocal harmonies is effective. Though the sisters demonstrate their awareness of contemporary styles of playing traditional material, they put their own stamp on everything they do, even if there's a feeling that they're not yet fully pushing the envelope: give 'em time!

Shreds & Patches

Baz Parkes

Some issues ago I was fortunate enough to review Emily and Hazel's Six By Two, what we might have called a "sampler" back in the old days, and remember writing that I eagerly anticipated more. Here it is. All in a Garden Green is the duo's first full-length album. So what's happened over the last twelve months? The interplay between fiddle and melodeon seems more assured, and there's an added drive to the playing. Dorrington lads, Blenheim House/Malt Has Come Down and The Unfortunate Tailor/Shaalds of Foula all demonstrate this well. Any recording of fiddle and melodeons working together will invite comparison to the mighty Spiers and Boden these days, and the Askew sisters can certainly stand that comparison.

So much for the tune side, what of the vocals? One of the delights of the songs on Six by Two was a certain "edge" to the songs which seems to have disappeared here. There's a smoothness to Hazel's vocals which, almost veers to the mannered in places, at least to these ears. The arrangements, however, are wonderful, particularly The Old Virginia lowlands and The Lover's Ghost. There's nothing amiss with the singing, you understand, it's just that I preferred the sound on the first recording. And if you let the CD run on after the 13

tracks listed on the booklet, you'll be treated to a version of The Dunstan Lullaby that restored my faith      

Unicorn

Alan Creamer

Two young women with a big future, already appearing at major festivals in their late teens/early twenties - it's heartening to hear young people really into the tradition. Emily plays fiddle and cello, and Hazel sings and plays melodeon. Excellent, simple but effective orchestration (by the sisters themselves) and lovely clean sound from Doug Bailey at WiIdGoose Studios combine on this album.

The sisters play and sing some well-known favourites, including 'Adieu to Old England' and 'The Banks of the Sweet Primroses' - but always with a freshness which rejuvenates them. Three instrumental tracks balance the songs, including the title track, from Playford's 1651 Collection, paired with 'Horse's Bransle', and a 14 part (!) pipe tune 'Dorrington Lads' is given an airing. 'A Noble Riddle Wisely Expounded' wins the prize for best title, and at over seven minutes is also the longest track - but it's sung and played with passion, and has to be my favourite song. Best instrumental track -'The Unfortunate Tailor/The Shaalds of Foula'.

Throughout, there are some really good, inventive tune variations and double stopping by Emily on the fiddle, balanced by Hazel's clear voice, and good use of the left hand on melodeon. Thirteen tracks, (plus bonus track 'Lullaby') and over an hour in length is top value.

Taplas

Sally Clayden

TWO young sisters from London, who've been brought up on a diet of Sidmouth, Emily mainly plays a pretty mean fiddle, with occasional cello, while Hazel is on melodeon and takes the vocal lead. This is an impressive first

recording of traditional English songs with some tunes.

Hazel's gentle voice on Fare Thee Well my Dearest Dear is beautifully counterbalanced by Emily's cello. The

wonderful Blenheim House, from Kynaston's collection, is outstanding and I enjoyed listening as they explored various arrangements in The Unfortunate Tailor, although possibly some of the linking between that and the following tune The Shaalds of Foula was somewhat laborious - but hey, that's just carping of me.

They have put together some really studied arrangements, which is more than many ever do. Listening to the Dixon pipe tune Dorrington Lads and All in a Garden Green, followed by the Horses Branle, it's striking how we all put our own character and stamp on a tune and bring out different aspects. It will be fascinating to see where these sisters want to go with their music.

Whats Afoot

Colin Andrews

A few issues ago, I reviewed a 6-track sampler CD of Emily and Hazel Askew, and was impressed by the potential of these two young musicians. This is their first full album.

Though both classically trained on other instruments (and indeed both pursuing higher studies in music), they took up violin and melodeon to play folk music, to which they had been exposed since a very early age. Hazel has also developed an interest in singing, and takes the lead vocal on all of the songs on the CD. Emily provides backing vocals on some tracks, and occasionally swaps her fiddle for her cello, to great eftect.

Hazel has a beautiful clear voice, well suited to her choice of material, all taken from English traditional sources. On first casual hearing, I had the impression that her delivery was inclined to be a bit staccato, but on subsequent playings, with my full attention , I could find no fault. My favourite song track undoubtedly is Farewell My Dearest Dear. I know the song well, having sung it myself in harmony for over 30 years, but Hazel really does make it her own - absolutely stunning! The Old Virginia Lowlands comes a close second!

The melodeon and fiddle accompaniments blend well with the vocals but the instruments are given full reign on the tune sets. John Playford's All In A Garden Green is perhaps an unexpected pairing with the medieval horses Branle - but it works! Their other instrumentals also have a long pedigree.

There is now an encouraging number of talented young folk singers and musicians on the club and festival scene. Emily and Hazel Askew can deservedly count among them.

The Folk Diary

Vic Smith

Small young women - big confident sound! Emily and Hazel are maturing into

really top-class performers and this, their second album, shows them making

considerable strides. Their playing and singing now has more emotional depth

and technically their playing still makes great strides.  Much of their song

material is familiar but this scarcely matters when they bring so much

freshness and enthusiasm to their performances. There have been many

recordings of High Germany, Sweet Primroses and The Lover's Ghost but they

bring something new and bright to the way that they treat them.

It is in the punchy assurance in the way that that attack their dance tunes

played on fiddle and melodeon that they show the most startling advance and

the complicated Dorrington Lads really sparkles. There are now many stars in

the firmament of young English folk performers but few are shining as

brightly at the moment as the Askews

Rythms Australia

Tony Hillier

The Askew Sisters, Emily and Hazel, are the English equivalent of acclaimed Orkney siblings Hazel and Jennifer Wrigley. Although they sing as well, the young Londoners, who play fiddle and cello and melodeon respectively, are rather more impressive as instrumentalists. On All In A Garden Green, the Askews put a contemporary stamp on songs popularised by such stalwarts of the British day scene as Waterson:Carthy, Stan Hugill, Nic Jones and Frankie Armstrong, and perform standards like 'High Germany' and 'The Banks Of The Sweet Primroses' with their own panache. Pairing 'All In A Garden Green', a 17th century tune, with 'Horses Bransle', a medieval dance dating back to the 1200s, was an inspired choice.

Lancashire Wakes

John McAlister

Emily and Hazel Askew to be precise, born and bred in London, but we should not hold that against them! Obviously cursed by folky parents they have spent holidays at the Sidmouth Folk Festival. Emily started playing the classical cello, recorder and piano, later transferring to the fiddle, there being little opportunity to play those instruments in sessions I suppose. As at this time she is studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, furthering her instrument repertoire in medieval fiddle (whatever that is) and baroque oboe. I hope she has a big bedroom. Hazel started on flute and piano and now plays the melodeon. Serves her parents right. She also is into singing.

Performing as a duo they have frequented festivals and folk clubs and mixed with other disreputable people like morris, rapper and Appalachian dancers. This has obviously had an influence and the songs and tunes are traditional. Like all young players they put their own stamp on things and greatly enjoy what they are doing. I could have done without the fourteen part version of Dorrington Lads, even dedicated Northumbrian players find this hard listening. If the composer, William Dixon played this on this deathbed it might explain a few things, and he took his time going. Having said that, it's a great CD for such young talent, even if they are classically trained. Yes, they have a website www.askewsisters.co.uk, where all else is revealed.

Around Kent Folk

Hazel & Emily, two young sisters who are happily taking the folk scene by storm. Melodeon & fiddle partner well together and combined with their warm womanly voices gives this CD a glorious feel. They have great respect for the tradition whilst showing full awareness of contemporary styles. The sheer enjoyment and obvious love for the music is infectious from 'Adieu to Old England', 'High Germany, 'Banks of Sweet Primroses' to tunes 'Horses Bransle', 'Blenheim House' and 'Unfortunate Tailor'. Equally happy with singing or playing, the unaccompanied 'Lovers Ghost' is perfect as is 'The Old Virginia Lowlands' and 'A Nobel Riddle Wisely Expounded'. Talent oozes from these lasses ? play, sing, study music, dance and play for morris, rapper sword and Appalachian sides.

Sing Out USA

KR

Sometimes the simplest approach works best. Here London, England, natives Emily and Haskel Askew deliver a delightful set of traditional songs and tunes, using only voice, melodeon, fiddle and cello. They don't need anything else. Hazel does all of the lead singing, and her voice has a touch of Broadway show/�music hall� theatricality which makes these acoustic performances a little spicier. Great versions of �The Lowlands of Virginia� and �Three Drunken Maidens.� Looking forward to the next album.