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Sue Hamer-Moss of Whats Afoot

reviews A Handful of Sky by Nick Wyke and Becki Driscoll

What an excellently crafted CD this is! Each song has been diligently researched and carefully arranged. There is a lovely mixture of jolly toetapping tunes and atmospheric strings, with a generous North Devon flavour to the lyrics. Nick and Becki expertly mix their own compositions with arrangements of traditional songs resulting in a cohesive and eminently listenable-to CD.
The music is, however, much, much more than jolly tunes. It can be enjoyed on a more sophisticated level. Every single note is as clear as a bell. The deceptive simplicity of the arrangements enables each instrument to have an important part to play and gives the harmonies a balanced crispness, which is exquisite. Nick and Becki’s expertise gives their sound a funfilled confidence. They play with a complete togetherness - exciting rhythms and subtle little key changes here and there - including the listeners in their fun but keeping them on their toes.

Each of the tracks has its own excellent reason for being enjoyable, so it is difficult to pick favourites. I particularly enjoyed the traditional medley of jigs, as there were so many different
musical surprises – not least the slightly tongue in cheek reference to Status Quo – although there
were at least 4 chords in Nick and Becki’s version of “Burning Bridges” (aka ‘Darby Kelly’)! ‘The
Cornwall Apprentice’ is beautifully arranged, with strong, driving chords to match the vocals.
It’s followed by a delicately played hornpipe set with its carefree play on rhythms and little key
changes, all supported by ultra-crisp bassoon from Becki. I defy you not to go round the house singing ‘one, two, three, four, five, six’ after listening to ‘The Torrington Ringers’. The beautifully slow and slightly melancholy strings on title track, ‘Handful of Sky’ transport you to the top of a windswept hill with consummate ease, providing a brilliant contrast to the previous jolly jig track.

What I really appreciated about this album was the thoughtfulness in music and voice arrangements which complement the subject matter in each of the tracks, and the composition of the album as a cohesive whole, including Hilary Bix’s imaginative cover.

With this CD, Nick and Becki extend an invitation to a personal music party – accept and enjoy!