Mike Blair of Shire Folk
reviews Wight Cockade by The DollymoppsThis is the second studio album from Isle of Wight traditional singing trio The Dollymopps Virgil and Dorana Philpott and Justin Smith since they began singing from their local tradition in 2005. The island has proved a rich vein of traditional treasures, with songs and poems collected locally by Gardiner, W.H. Long and Lucy Broadwood, and the group themselves. All the usual themes are here seafaring, following the plough, merrymaking at harvest and the local fair, and so on but with Isle of Wight references and colour.
For material with no tune, the group use their fine harmonic talent to compose one. They even borrowed one from Orkney for ‘British Man of War’ As with any island community, there are many sea based songs, such as ‘From Spithead Roads’ the broken token song ‘On Gosport Beach’ and a very tall tale of whaling at the North Pole, ‘The Bosun's Song’
With 13 of the 15 songs unaccompanied, it was almost a shock to hear Jonas and the Devil; from the singing of Bob Roberts, beautifully sung and played by Virgil on guitar. Good to know he is let off the leash occasionally! There's great fun at harvest time in ‘Jolly Harvestmen’ and at ‘Newtown Randy’ a fourteenth century religious fair with just as much to offer as Weyhill or Rawtenstall.
Far from being restricting, preserving a very local tradition has produced a most enjoyable collection.