The send album from this trio and it contains some wonderful playing and singing as well as cracking tunes. Played on melodeon, cello and either guitar or bouzouki.



I began making up tunes almost as soon as I started learning the melodeon 10 or 12 years ago. There seemed to be a mystique surrounding the playing of traditional music that I didn’t understand (I’m a little wiser now but not much!) so I reasoned that, if I played my own tunes, no one could tell me I was playing them too fast, too slow, wrong key, wrong notes or even on the wrong instrument, although I expect there are plenty of people who think the melodeon is always the wrong instrument!

Many of the ditties are composed in my head whilst rambling the beautiful Mendip Hills where we live, and much of my inspiration has come from our three lovely girls, Flora, Martha and Agnes, who are a bit too cool to play this sort of music at this stage in their lives, but I’m optimistic for the future!

I am so grateful to David for his unfailing support and for liking the songs enough to want to sing and play them, and to Kate for bringing it all to life with huge skill and care - no such thing as just ‘bunging a bit of cello on’ for Kate!

Issy plays a Wheatstone English concertina and Castagnari melodeons in D/G, C/F and A/D.

David plays Fylde guitar and bouzouki and a Belgarth bodhran

Kate’s cello is ‘just a cello’ she says.

1 The Tree Men 
Issy Emeney 

- inspired by the legend of the standing stones at Stanton Drew in Somerset. In the absence of a devil fiddler we think Kate does a pretty good job as a demonic cellist! 

2 Lark Rise 
Issy Emeney 

I had the pleasure of finding a suitable melodeon for ‘Alf’ to play in the BBC television Lark Rise to Candleford series - it comes from Ruth Askew’s wonderful collection - and teaching him which way up to hold it. I wrote this tune hoping the BBC would love it and use it - they didn’t!! However, Ashley Hutchins did like it and I recorded a version of it for his new Lark Rise Revisited album. 

3 The Waiting 
Issy Emeney 

yes, I know that a song about a maid waiting on the shore for her long departed sailor sweetheart to return has been done before, but some songs just sort of write themselves and you can’t stop ‘em. In any case, I wrote it to go with The Bristol Sailor to reflect the other side of the story - is it just me or is there a hint of irritation in her words? 

4 The Bristol Sailor 
Issy Emeney 

having been born and raised in Suffolk which is a little on the flat side, I instantly fell in love with the hills of Somerset when we moved here six years ago, and miss them greatly when away. I began to imagine how a sailor of old, at sea for years at a time, would develop a desparate longing for those hills, and his sweetheart of course. 

5 Little Agnes 
Issy Emeney 

written for our youngest daughter when she was about four and a tiny scrap of a thing. The original title was Wee Agnes, but she was dreadfully upset because “wee is rude” (we never told her that I promise). 

6 The Mole Catcher 
Trad 

A song from the West Country that Baring Gould obviously didn’t get his hands on and clean up! 

7 The Bird Scarer’s Song 
Issy Emeney 

together with two other folkie chums Bernard and Elisabeth Coulter, we visit schools cunningly disguised in Victorian garb, and sing songs about what it would have been like to be a poor working child of the period. We call ourselves History Folk, by the way. Bird scaring was one of the less unspeakable jobs children did, but knowing how hard it is to get our three girls up for school in the morning, I was moved to write this sad little song. 

8 May to Midsummer 
Issy Emeney 

- it does what it says on the box so to speak in that I started it one day in May and finished it one midsummers day. 

9 Song for a young Man 
Issy Emeney 

- written for an exceptional boy whom we never knew. He died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 15, and had been in love with our eldest daughter. 

10 The Gypsy Countess 
Trad 

- the prequel to the song of the Seven Gypsies, or Raggle Taggle Gypsies. It’s a mystery to me why on earth the fine lady would leave her goose feather bed and all that to sleep on the cold open ground (I’ve done my fair share of festival camping too!). This song explains it all - sort of, although personally if I’d been her...! 

11 Jenny Lind/The Reluctant Fiddler/The First of September 
Trad/Issy Emeney/Trad 

- two of my favourite traditional tunes. The second tune refers to our middle daughter Martha, a gifted but uninterested fiddler. Her occasional teacher John Dipper suggested all manner of bribery and corruption to persuade her to continue, but to no avail - the reluctance sadly proved terminal. 
The Tree Men
- inspired by the legend of the standing stones at Stanton Drew in Somerset. In the absence of a devil fiddler we think Kate does a pretty good job as a demonic cellist!
Lark Rise
I had the pleasure of finding a suitable melodeon for ‘Alf’ to play in the BBC television Lark Rise to Candleford series - it comes from Ruth Askew’s wonderful collection - and teaching him which way up to hold it. I wrote this tune hoping the BBC would love it and use it - they didn’t!! However
The Waiting
yes
Sample not available
The Bristol Sailor
having been born and raised in Suffolk which is a little on the flat side
Sample not available
Little Agnes
written for our youngest daughter when she was about four and a tiny scrap of a thing. The original title was Wee Agnes
Sample not available
The Mole Catcher
A song from the West Country that Baring Gould obviously didn’t get his hands on and clean up!
Sample not available
The Bird Scarer’s Song
together with two other folkie chums Bernard and Elisabeth Coulter
May to Midsummer
- it does what it says on the box so to speak in that I started it one day in May and finished it one midsummers day.
Sample not available
Song for a young Man
- written for an exceptional boy whom we never knew. He died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 15
Sample not available
The Gypsy Countess
- the prequel to the song of the Seven Gypsies
Sample not available
Jenny Lind/The Reluctant Fiddler/The First of September
- two of my favourite traditional tunes. The second tune refers to our middle daughter Martha
Sample not available

Andy Kershaw

Andy Kershaw

That Issy Emeney is a first-rate tunesmith - and a fine player - has  

been a well-kept secret for some time (check out Lark Rise). Her  

songwriting, too, deserves our admiration. So accomplished is she and  

so complete is her empathy with the tradition that she can turn out a  

song today that would convince even the most tedious purist that it  

had been handed down across the centuries. Song For A Young Man is  

exquisitely simple and deeply moving. This album from Issy, David and  

Kate is a delight.

Net Rythms

David Kidman

The Waiting is a welcome follow-up to the Cheddar-based duo's well-received 2007 debut Legends And Lovers, following a similar pattern and providing a natural continuation of that disc's charms. Again virtually all the material emanates from Issy's own pen, but I think this time the songs are both stronger in character and even more in keeping with the generally traditional feel of the musical settings, and if anything the performances themselves seem a shade more assured, while the greater consistency of the material ensures that the album flows better as a whole. The internal distribution of roles is broadly as before, with David doing most of the singing and playing guitar, bouzouki and bodhr�n, Issy contributing melodeon, English concertina and vocal harmonies, and Kate providing the sublimely lyrical cello counterpoint.

The tracklisting may at first also occasion a distinct sense of d�j�-vu, for (in common with its predecessor) midway through the sequence we find a traditional song entitled The Mole Catcher � although it's a completely different beast: this particular West Country song was gleefully popularised by Peter Bellamy, and David here gives a zestful account of its bawdy frolics (hey, careful with that rhyme, Eugene!). Once again though (and this is no reflection on the fine quality of David's singing), the two items on which Issy sings the lead are among the album's highlights: Song For A Young Man is a simple, poignant tale of a life cut short before its prime, whereas the CD's title track, a twist on the standard �maid waiting on the shore� scenario, is linked with that which follows (The Bristol Sailor, which conveys his feelings of deep longing for the hills of Somerset and his sweetheart).

I'd also single out The Bird Scarer's Song � a piquant, if doleful depiction of one of the less unspeakable jobs children in Victorian times were called on to do � and The Gypsy Countess, a creative prequel to the familiar Raggle Taggle Gypsies tale, sung here as a duet. The vocal selections are interspersed with Issy's lyrical original tunes, pleasing and gentle in nature, including a delightful air she wrote for (but unaccountably didn't get used in) BBC TV's Lark Rise To Candleford series; then it's back to tradition as the Jenny Lind Polka provides the springboard for a stylish uptempo finish to the disc.



Reservations? There are a couple of instances when Kate's desire for audible theatrical effect intrudes with a certain air of contrivance-cum-gimmick (on the over-emphatic �devilish� characterisation towards the close of The Three Men, for example); and I'd repeat my comment on the duo's earlier release � ie. that I'd like to hear more of Issy's singing.

Nevertheless The Waiting is still a very attractive disc that is certain to bring Issy and David more admirers.

www.issyanddavidemeney.co.uk

R2 (RocknReel)

Dai Jeffries

Issy and David Emeney are the sort of artists who, in better times, were the backbone of the folk club circuit. Both sing and Issy plays concertina and melodeon with David on guitar and bouzouki. Kate Riaz plays cello, which is integral to their sound.

The majority of the material is written by Issy. I infer this from the song notes but there are no composer credits, nor credits for designer or photographer. This seems to be a growing trend and I feel a campaign coming on. Issy's songs are in a traditional vein: 'The Waiting' is a 'broken token' ballad with neither token nor happy ending and 'The Bird Scarer's Song' is one that nobody felt the need for over the last few centuries.

Despite my misgivings about the concocting of faux-trad songs when there are so many great real ones, I rather enjoyed the album. Its highlight, 'Song For A Young Man', is a genuinely exceptional piece of writing that justifies The Waiting.

Mardles

Maggie Moore

This is Issy and David's second album, and once again they have Kate Riaz accompanying them on cello. Originally from Suffolk, the couple moved to Somerset a few years ago with their 3 children. Issy has only been playing melodeon for 10 years or so, but has been composing her own tunes for most of that time. David, though, has been playing the guitar since he was a young lad of 7, and whilst still at school he formed his own rock band, who are still playing 35 years later with nearly the same line?up! Kate learnt the cello purely by chance, as there were no clarinets available at the school, whilst there did happen to be a cello at the back of the music cupboard!

All three musicians are very accomplished in what they bring to the tunes and songs. The whole feel of the album is gentle and relaxed, mystical and meditative, as its title might suggest. There is very good use of syncopation in some of the tunes and accompaniments but it is not overdone. The songs are well thought out and the guitar accompaniments are most sensitive: strong enough to give structure, but not overwhelming to all the lovely counter melodies. The cello is put to good use and Kate Riaz plays some really fast passages excellently. The melodeons and concertina are all quite dry?tuned which adds to the general soft and muted air of the whole.

Being a melodeon player myself, my favourite track is one of Issy's own tunes called May to Midsummer (which is the length of time it took her to complete the composition). I especially like this one (and Stan agreed!) because it is the most bouncy of all the tracks, and appealed to my yearning for a bit of "oooomph". Having said that, it's still in keeping with the general feel of the album, and is again quite a contemplative tune.

A well recorded and well crafted album. Well done all three.

Folk London

Brian Cope

I have not come across this trio before and having once listened to the C.D. I was quite surprised especially as this is not their first recording.

The CD is a mixture of tunes and songs either traditional or original material with a definite traditional feel. Of the eleven tracks two West Country songs `The Mole Catcher' and `The Gypsy Countess' are both given interesting arrangements, the former having a distinct country waltz flavour.

The remaining five songs are written by Issy and include a reworking of the Stanton Drew Story ? `The Three Men' and a traditional take on the fair maid on the shore theme which gives the CD its title `The Waiting' and the girl does just that. However she is provided with a really good chorus to help pass the time. It is often said that the best folk songs arise from tragedy and that is certainly the case here, for `Song.for a Young Man' a poignant true story about the sudden death of a teenager, stands out.

Issy is an able tune smith and it is not surprising that Ashley Hutchings has recorded a version of her composition 'Lark Rise'.

The vocals are shared equally between Issy and David and weaving in and out of some very strong and carefully crafted arrangements is Kate's Cello, helping establish a very distinctive sound.

Taplas

Mick Tems

ISSY and David have beautifully captured this set with a performance that's original, unusual, mysterious, timeless and very heartwarming. They moved from Suffolk to Somerset six years ago, and Issy is prolific at writing tunes and songs. She's a nimble and light-fingered melodeon player - and I just love the sweet and mellow tones on her Castagnaris.

Her composing takes the lionesses' share on this delightful CD, with the title track, Lark Rise, The Three Men, The Gypsy Countess, Little Agnes and Bird Scarer's Song all impressing greatly. Written and traditional songs soon snuggle down together, David's confident guitar and Kate's spine-shivering cello giving them just the perfect lift-off.

Folk Northwest

Peter Massey

It is always a pleasure tinged with excitement to receive a CD for review from artist I have never heard of before. This is often the case when they are semi-pro or live at the other end of the country and haven't ventured on to my patch yet. It's even more of a pleasant surprise to find they really very good. This is just the case for me when I listened to this album. I think this is the 2nd album from Issy & David Emenet with Kate Riaz.



Originally from Suffolk, the Emeney family moved to Somerset a few years ago. Pleasingly, they have carried a strong sense of Suffolk traditional music with them and fused with influence from Somerset, it works well.



What I liked most about the album which is made up of mainly traditional 'sounding' material, is not only the gentle relaxed accompaniment, but the way they have added a little bit of 'Theatre' to their arrangements. This something that I think is very important, if traditional folk song is to survive into the next century. You only have to watch a Morris dance team in action, to see the obvious fun and enjoyment they are having doing it. There is no need for some traditional singers to be so dower and serious about their songs.  



Issy plays melodeon, concertina and sings sharing the lead vocals with David on guitar, bouzouki and bodhran. Kate plays cello gives a vocal harmony. All 3 musicians appear very accomplished and the accompaniments are sensitively done. Especially the cello from Kate as she plays up on the 'dusty' end of the cello's neck!



The album starts with a song called 'The Three Men', another take on the Stanton Drew song. A fine starting song for the album, but I would have placed the next tune called 'Lark Rise' although it is very pleasant, a bit lower in the play list. This brings you to the title track 'The Waiting' sung by Issy (I presume?) Written by Issy, it's a story about a maiden lamenting for the return of her departed sailor sweetheart. The next song 'The Bristol Sailor' might be the sailors' story. Unfortunately, the sleeve notes are a bit short on information as to who wrote what. I am presuming David or Issy wrote this one, however, it does have shades of something Martyn Wyndham-Read might have sung.



I particularly liked Davids' treatment given to Baring Gould 'The Mole Catcher' song. I haven't heard this song for many a year!



The album has quite a few interesting songs and tunes written by Issy. 'The Bird Scarer's Song' about the unspeakable job given to poor Victorian children. 'Song For a Young Man' a personal song written about a 15 year old boy who died suddenly in his sleep. 'The Gypsy Countess' a prequel to the song Raggle Taggle Gypsies.    

 

To sum up, this is good album that I recommend you buy. The band is on the way up, and on the strength of this album, it won't be long before they appear on the guest list for many more folk festivals, - where they deserve to be!

EDS

Ray Langton

This is the second CD recorded by Issy, David and Kate on the WildGoose label, and it is delightful.  Issy's melodeon playing is fluent and distinctive, employing many runs across the rows that smooth out the 'bounce' that is normally associated with melodeons. This style is extremely well suited to song accompaniments and blends well with the vocals, guitar and cello to produce a rounded, mellow, totally-together sound.

The majority of the songs and tunes are written by Issy and are so strongly based on traditional style that it seems that they must have been around forever. These songs work so well that it seems a little strange to include, as the only 'traditional' song on the CD, a version of the well known song, 'The Molecatcher'. I am sure there are many, many other traditional songs more worthy of Issy and David's attentions than this one.

There are four of Issy's own tunes on the CD; 'Lark Rise' a version of which was included on Ashley Hutchings' Lark Rise Revisited album, 'Little Agnes', a tune written for her youngest daughter, 'May to Midsummer' and 'The Reluctant Fiddler', which forms part of the final track. All of these enable Issy to demonstrate her mastery of the instrument and her imaginative approach to composition.

David Emeney leads on several of the vocal tracks and also provides excellent, tasteful guitar and bouzouki accompaniment, while Kate Riaz's cello playing knits everything together and their contribution does much to make this CD the success it is.

Look out for this trio this year, and make sure you go to hear them: you won't be disappointed.

Folk Roundabout

The Waiting is a welcome follow-up to the Cheddar-based duo's well-received 2007 debut Legends And Lovers, following a similar pattern and providing a natural continuation of that disc's charms. Again virtually all the material emanates from Issy's own pen, but I think this time the songs are both stronger in character and even more in keeping with the generally traditional feel of the musical settings, and if anything the performances themselves seem a shade more assured, while the greater consistency of the material ensures that the album flows better as a whole.

The internal distribution of roles is broadly as before, with David doing most of the singing and playing guitar, bouzouki and bodhran, Issy contributing melodeon, English concertina and vocal harmonies, and Kate providing the sublimely lyrical cello counterpoint.

The tracklisting may at first also occasion a distinct sense of deja-vu, for (in common with its predecessor) midway through the sequence we find a traditional song entitled The Mole Catcher - although it's a completely different beast: this particular West Country song was gleefully popularised by Peter Bellamy, and David here gives a zestful account of its bawdy frolics (careful with that rhyme, Eugene!). Once again though (and this is no reflection on the fine quality of David's singing), the two items on which Issy sings the lead are among the album's highlights: Song For A Young Man is a simple, poignant tale of a life cut short before its prime, whereas the CD's title track, a twist on the standard �maid waiting on the shore� scenario, is linked with that which follows (The Bristol Sailor, which conveys his feelings of deep longing for the hills of Somerset and his sweetheart). I'd also single out The Bird Scarer's Song - a piquant, if doleful depiction of one of the less unspeakable jobs children in Victorian times were called on to do - and The Gypsy Countess, a creative prequel to the familiar Raggle Taggle Gypsies tale, sung here as a duet.

The vocal selections are interspersed with Issy's lyrical original tunes, pleasing and gentle in nature, including a delightful air she wrote for (but unaccountably didn't get used in) BBC TV's Lark Rise To Candleford series; then it's back to tradition as Jenny Lind provides the uptempo springboard for a stylish polka to the finishing-line.

The Living Tradition

Dai Woosnam

Issy & David Emeney are a married duo based in the Mendip Hills of Somerset.  David plays guitar, bouzouki and bodhr�n, and sings in a most pleasing way.  It is a voice that could help a fitful child get off to sleep and could charm the birds at 50 paces: and it's thus the sort of voice that really finds its true metier in these songs.  

For the songs (largely written by Issy) are essentially sweet and harmonious numbers, that whilst they often deal with sad subject matter, lend themselves to sweet singing.  And trust me, these are two very sweet singers indeed.  And Issy has a lovely lyrical approach to her concertina and melodeon playing, to boot.

But, just as a restaurant critic can describe the d�cor, the service, the prices and the clientele, sooner or later he must eventually come to the heart of the matter: the food.

Likewise, we can beat about the bush all day, but in an album that is predominantly self-penned (albeit, always using melodies that are simpatico with the best of the English folk tradition), we eventually have to come down to the crunch question: are the songs any good?  Well, how can I answer that?  Let me try by first �damning with faint praise�, and firmly say that none of them are bad.  (And before you say �well of course they would not be!�, let me disabuse you of that notion.  For the fact is, that I have over the years, reviewed many albums featuring songs written by major names, and these have occasionally been songs so lacking in wit and memorability, that the writers should have been ashamed of them.)

No, the songs here are sound enough.   They are aided by lovely cello work throughout, from Kate Riaz (I could have done with her sound level a notch or three higher on several songs), and very good liner notes (a hallmark of Doug Bailey's label).  And it's not just songs: there is the occasional instrumental too.   The best of these is Lark Rise on the later album.   Issy had hoped the BBC would use it in their Lark Rise To Candleford, but they turned it down.  More fool them.   Fortunately, Ashley Hutchings (please note, WildGoose, not �Hutchins�) showed more sense than �Auntie Beeb�, and has recorded it.

But, let's come to the question that the reviewer should always ask himself, viz.  would I buy these albums with my own hard-earned money?   And the honest answer here is, �I might�.  And if I did, one song on each CD would clinch it for me.

The first album contains a song called Bedtime which wonderfully captures the problems of getting kids off to sleep, just when you are tired yourself and want a little R&R in front of the TV, or else some gentle conversation with one's spouse.    And the second contains a really sublime song called Song For A Young Man.  A lament for their daughter's boyfriend, who died in his sleep at just 15 years of age.  David's harmony line on the chorus nearly moved me to tears.   It is a song which is simple and honest and makes your heart ache.  And you cannot ask for more from a song than that.